Because the poorest Americans can’t afford to pay legal fees to wade through the financial paperwork of filing for bankruptcy.
Every year, OZY gives 10 college students the opportunity to pursue their outstanding ideas and envisioned innovations with grants of up to $10,000. The OZY Genius Awards aim to support and celebrate the next Albert Einstein or Oprah Winfrey as they write groundbreaking books, film thought-provoking documentaries, launch tomorrow’s industry-disrupting companies or create the next game-changing social movement. Applications for the 2021 OZY Genius Awards are now open — learn more and apply today.
Legal mumbo jumbo is enough to scare most of us away from complicated government forms, which is why so many poor Americans get caught in the trap of unending debt and are unable to see a way out.
While an undergraduate at Harvard, Rohan Pavuluri recognized this as a civil rights injustice: The poor were unable to hire the help they needed to file complicated bankruptcy forms for a much-needed fresh start.
“That really angered me,” Pavuluri recalls. So he decided to do something about it, and to get his idea off the ground, he turned to OZY’s Genius Awards.
His idea? To offer a free TurboTax-like service for bankruptcy to indebted Americans. He wanted to extend a lifeline to all those who couldn’t afford to pay thousands for legal assistance just to go bankrupt. His company, Upsolve, is now the country’s biggest bankruptcy nonprofit — offering free services to those who need them.
OZY isn’t the only organization to recognize Pavuluri’s genius. Today, Upsolve is funded by the Robin Hood Foundation, the Hewlett Foundation, the New York Bar Foundation, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt and the Legal Services Corporation.
But greatness has to start somewhere. And OZY’s Genius Award, he says, helped tremendously. Apart from the obvious financial support, Pavuluri says winning the OZY award made it easier for others to take him seriously. “When you’re young and just starting out, it is difficult to convince people to believe in you.”
Now 25, Pavuluri was named to Forbes‘ 30 Under 30 and featured in the Time100 Next list for 2021. And he’s just getting started. Next up? He wants to turn Upsolve into a “Mayo Clinic” for every type of legal matter, extending a hand to help financially challenged Americans meet more of their legal needs.