What do you remember most about what you learned in the tenth grade?

Did your teachers delve into the many causes of hardship or the meaning of “financial inclusion?”  Did you and your classmates hold a fundraiser so that you could make a loan to an entrepreneur halfway around the world?

For most of us, the answer is probably “no”. But today, there are more than 30,000 students and teachers who, through the Kiva U platform, are using microfinance as a powerful learning tool – transforming the classroom environment from absorption to engagement and inspiring students to move from awareness to action.

The idea behind Kiva U is a simple one: Give students the ability to form “lending teams” with peers in their school, university or youth group, and provide them with tools for organizing, raising funds and collaborating with other teams around the country. At the same time, it aims to provide teachers with lesson plans, teaching resources and other tools for integrating microfinance into the course curriculum.

What results is an immersive, hands-on learning environment in which students go way beyond simply accumulating facts for rote recitation in tests – they have rich, real-world experiences that teach enduring lessons about economics, culture, business, politics and more.

How “real” are these real-world experiences? Since Kiva and Citi launched the program in September 2013, Kiva U lending teams have issued more than 110,000 new loans in 83 different countries, totaling $8.3 million. One-third of the loans have gone to countries on the United Nations’ list of “least developed countries,” and 71 percent of the loans were made to women. These loans range from supporting farmers, retail businesses and entrepreneurs, to buying feed for cattle or making repairs to equipment – and have the potential to change lives.

But the numbers, while impressive, are only part of the story, just as the Kiva U platform itself is only one part of what makes the program so successful.  The success behind Kiva U lies in the fact that its value as a teaching tool is created by the journey of making a loan. By bringing together students with teachers and the lending teams with the borrowers, it enables a truly co-created, holistic learning experience.

When deciding on which Kiva borrowers to lend to, teams research who the borrowers are, the context in which they live and the challenges they face. They learn about the needs of different kinds of businesses, and what it means to raise funds, lend and invest. They learn about financial inclusion, and about the many different ways the public and private sector work together to help alleviate poverty and create more inclusive economies. And many lending teams actually meet their borrowers or interact online, forming connections with people and places that they might otherwise never have considered.

To understand just how far teachers and students have taken Kiva U to transform the classroom, one need not look any further than Biba Kavass. Biba, a teacher at Southwind High School in Memphis, Tennessee, began using Kiva as a practical way to teach her students about economics and financial inclusion through real world experiences of people around the globe, country-by-country and person-by-person.

In their first semester, they began with one class. As word spread, they opened the club to the entire school and grew to an active membership of 160 students. The club soon began collaborations with students across the United States and around the world. To date, Biba’s students have made more than 150 loans in 73 countries. Most importantly, they have had the opportunity to go out into the field and witness the impact of microfinance first-hand.

The Kiva club traveled through the Mississippi Delta and New Orleans to meet with borrowers recovering from the devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina. They spent a week on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota visiting borrowers who used their Kiva loan to grow a successful business. This summer, they are traveling in Guatemala to further explore the impacts of financial inclusion.

Biba’s lessons and the experiences of her students continue to inspire – well after graduation. Many of her former students opened Kiva U lending clubs at their colleges, such as the University of Memphis, with satellite locations at Southwest Community College, Lemoyne-Owens, and Jackson State University in Tennessee.

At its core, Kiva U is just one teaching tool among many, just as microfinance is but one of the many tools within the broader realm of inclusive finance. It is solely through the brilliance, creativity and dedication of Biba, her students and the thousands of their Kiva U peers across the country that this tool is so effectively being used to transform lives – inside and outside of the classroom.