Clif Bar & Company attributes its success to “not selling out” when the owners walked away from a $120 million buyout offer in 2000. Instead, they kept the company private and invented their five-bottom-line business model focused on sustaining the business, its brands, its people, the community and the planet. Now, Clif Bar wants to help college seniors pursue meaningful post-graduate experiences instead of deciding based on the pressure of paying down their debt.
“At Clif Bar, the freedom to prioritize our values over short-term gains has been key to our success for more than 25 years,” said Gary Erickson, Clif Bar founder, co-owner and co-chief visionary officer. “With this scholarship, we hope to inspire the next generation to prioritize purpose at a pivotal moment in their lives, rather than letting conventional wisdom or financial realities determine which path they take after college.”
A Clif Bar survey found that financial debt has a considerable effect on whether graduating college students feel they can afford to pursue a career they care about. Among the results, 74 percent of respondents – young adults ages 18-34 – said their financial situation has a large impact on taking a job that would make them happy, while 73 percent said the same of a more interesting or rewarding career. 56 percent of said that debt from their education limits their ability to pursue a job or career they would find fulfilling, identifying student loan debt as the number one source (42 percent) of their fiscal burden, followed by credit card debt and medical bills.
With these feelings of financial insecurity, 63 percent admitted they felt the need to take the first job offered to pay off their debt and 68 percent said they were “very” or “extremely” likely to take a job that wasn’t fulfilling just to be able to pay off debts quickly.
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“Gary and I knew we had to do something when we learned today’s college graduates feel so burdened by debt that they can’t justify exploring meaningful experiences that could lead them to a career with purpose,” said Kit Crawford, Clif Bar co-owner and co-chief visionary officer. “Before Clif Bar, I hadn’t run a food company, but I had spent years volunteering. That led me to design a community service program that’s integral to our business model. I’m proof that you don’t need to start in the boardroom to land there.”
Recipients of the new scholarship will receive up to $37,172 — the average student loan debt — and a $3,000 monthly stipend plus mentoring from Clif Bar for up to a year. During that time, they will take on an experience that prioritizes their purpose – whether that’s an internship (paid or unpaid), a fellowship, a volunteer project, or a role with a mission-driven non-profit – to advance their meaningful business career.
Applications will open this fall for full-time students graduating in Spring 2019 from a four-year college or university in the US who have outstanding student debt. Ideal candidates will be motivated to bring a purpose-driven experience into their future business career, and will create a vision for doing something purposeful with the first year of their post-graduate life that will have impact on People, Planet or Communities.