About SDR PAC
DePaul University student Colin Mackintosh founded the Student Debt Reform Super PAC in 2014 to raise awareness about student relief — one of today’s most pressing millennial issues. According to the Institute for College Access & Success, “seven in 10 seniors (69%) who graduated from public and nonprofit colleges in 2014 had student loan debt, with an average of $28,950 per borrower.”
Check out the highlights from my conversation with Colin Mackintosh below and read how SDR PAC is working to advocate for student debt relief.
GY: Talk to me about how, practically speaking, you got your organization off the ground.
I took a political science class with a professor of mine, Catherine May, and I already knew what super PACs were beforehand-- I just never thought about trying to do anything with them. I was sitting in her class and we were talking about how money revolves in politics. The logistics behind it were interesting to me, so I figured it would be fun to start it and see what I could make out of it.
I went to the Federal Election Commission website, where they have a list of forms where you can register your organization to raise money for any reason you want. So I went to the SEC website and filled out the organization form you need and filed a 527 political non-profit with the IRS. Most people don’t know what that is. Obviously, it’s a non-profit status. We can spend and collect as much money as we want, as long as we collect the names of our contributors.
GY: What has the response been like from millennials?
When we first started, the only press we really got was from people who were really into politics. As soon as we started talking to students, especially, they got really into it. A lot of people from my high school got into it. A lot of people really want to get hands-on. We’ve had a lot of donations. The majority of people who donate are students. I think in the last year or so, we’ve gotten a few contributions from students at universities.
Really what we’re doing now with our advertising is focusing on educating people on the issue and how it affects them directly. We’re trying to organize a group panel discussion from our school. We’ve had a few speeches given out from Miami, Oxford, and Ohio. We had one in Indiana from a student who went to IU and gave a political discussion panel, explaining who we are and what we do. We’re trying to get more things going at DePaul. I was a guest speaker for my political science teacher’s class a few times. We’re trying to get people to know and understand the issue.
GY: So you’re focusing more on awareness raising than political action right now?
We are taking out a few small advertising campaigns in the city of Chicago just to see how it works out. It’s everywhere from billboard advertising to online advertising. We have not moved up into the echelons of commercial TV or anything like that yet, so we’re just going to stick to Chicago and a few billboard ads just to get our feet wet and see how it goes from there.
You can support the Student Debt Reform Super PAC here.