Every year thousands of young hopefuls attend architecture school, entering with the expectation that, after their years of struggle and long hours in studio, they’ll come out the other end as legitimate architects doing legitimate architecture.
How quickly they must abandon that unreasonable idea.
From CAD monkeys to baristas, most architecture grads are not doing what they thought they would when they submitted their first tuition checks. And, to add insult to injury, those tuition checks only multiplied, leaving our grads in thousands of dollars of debt.
According to their website, PAVE is “a funding community that connects talented young Americans with like-minded investors who provide money and non-financial support. In return prospects pay them a percentage of their earnings down the road.”
All kinds of people use PAVE for all kinds of projects—from starting ecological fashion brands to getting the first Kenyan to the top of Mount Everest. But of course, the architects using the platform caught our eye.
Daniel Toole, a young architect who will be starting his M.Architecture in Urban Design at the Harvard Graduate School of Design this fall, is hoping that PAVE will not only allow him to finance his education, but also immediately begin shaping his career around what he’s genuinely interested in. Since PAVE investors receive an amount proportional to one’s income—whatever it may be—for ten years, Toole has more freedom to take enriching jobs within the architecture industry (where big names all too often correspond with lousy paychecks).
As Toole told me in an interview: “if I take some low-paying jobs in the front end of that first decade after graduation that are rich career-wise i.e. an associate professorship, or a lower paying position in the employment of a renowned architect that might not pay so well, my payments back will be lower than a standard federal payback that would just adjust to my income and be spread out longer. The fact that [PAVE] investors understand this and the fact that they value your professional development is a positive plus.”
Of course, as a recent New York Times article, “Program Links Loans to Future Earnings, ” pointed out, there are some who have interpreted the PAVE contract as a type of indentured servitude. Yet, for Toole, “loans are indenturing too.” And, for PAVErs, the idea of giving your money (“indenturing” oneself) to investors who are also mentors, as opposed to an anonymous bank, is what makes the program far more appealing than a traditional loan.
Shane Gring used PAVE to successfully back his business BOULD an organization that simultaneously gives architects LEED building experience and provides affordable green housing. He told me that it’s inspiring for him: his money is “not going to line banker’s pockets, but instead a cool individual who cares about what I do.”
And the best part of PAVE, according to Gring (who spoke to us right before his campaign closed)? “I’m a few days away from having 15, 000 dollars in my bank account, to getting rid of my debt and moving forward. It will allow me to rid myself of burdens, to free up my income to have a better lifestyle.”
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