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Our Story

Where We Started

The idea for CandidWorks was born during the 2009 Sub-Prime Mortgage Crises. As with many university students at the time, CandidWorks founder Nicholas Brown was unable to finance his college education, and returned to his rural hometown after his freshman year. The recession had left his small community economically damaged with minimum wage jobs at a premium. Witnessing the impact of mortgage debt firsthand left him to reflect on what impact the growing rate of student loan debt may have on our future economy and the value of a college education.

Only a year later, news broke on the BP Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Images of the devastation on the Gulf shoreline became a call to action. As an able-bodied construction worker at the time, Nick felt more than compelled to do his part in the environmental clean-up, and set his sights on traveling to the coast the following week.


After being approved for time-off and carefully planning a budget for food, gas, and lodging, he realized that it wasn't his living expenses, but only his student loan payment that would hold him back from providing relief on the Coast. Watching as thousands of paid temp workers were shipped from across the US to facilitate the clean-up - and finding that the financial burden of his student loan debt had not only impacted his ability to finish his college education, but also his ability to provide volunteer support to the social and environmental causes he cared about - Nick set his mind on how to reverse the impact that student debt has on our ability to provide for ourselves and others. From the wake of the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe through the beginning of the US student loan debt crisis, arose the idea for CandidWorks - an innovative platform that enables students and graduates the freedom to break free from their student loan debt to provide volunteer services to the social and environmental causes that impact us all.

Our Mission

Providing better support to social, environmental, and educational causes while creating a new generation of altruistic individuals ready to pay it forward.

At CandidWorks, it is our mission to inspire action for those who are passionate about social and environmental improvement while reducing national student loan debt at the same time. At $1.3-1.4 trillion and growing, national student loan debt is the second highest debt group in existence today. Impacting 44 Million Americans and trailing only our total US mortgage debt, it will take an astronomical amount of funds, or a new way of processing student loan debt to alleviate the burden it places on our nation’s young adults and their families. While nearly a quarter million students abandon the idea of higher education each year, an estimated $410 billion are contributed to charities annually. That’s a large enough sum to not only reverse the estimated $45 billion growth in our student loan debt each year, but also begin to reduce the impact it has on our indebted and the economy.

As young adults, we’re passionate about the same social and environmental causes that our current charities and non-profits are; however, the pressure from student loan debt often makes it difficult to find the means to support them financially or physically. Contributing funds could mean going further into debt, and volunteering could mean taking time away from our secondary jobs, or extra efforts trying to find the means to make our next step in life. We also can’t just start asking people to start making charitable donations to us. That would divert money away from other good causes that we care about. What we would be willing to do; however, is contribute significantly more time volunteering for the social and environmental causes we care about if we weren’t so burdened by our debt.

By creating a platform that enables students and graduates the ability to crowd-source funding for their student loan debt in exchange for their pledge to provide volunteer service, our mission is to create a new model for philanthropic giving that goes beyond a single beneficiary, and creates twice the impact. By supporting a graduate or student, you are not only helping relieve the impact of the student loan debt crisis, but also making your contributions go twice as far to improve the social and environmental causes you care about, all at a fraction of the cost of a traditional charity. To learn more about how CandidWorks, and how we reduce the overhead of the traditional charity while improving transparency, check out our "About Us" section, or email

OUR Team

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Nicholas Brown; Business Development & Strategy

Founder of CandidWorks; Business Strategy at Genworth Financial

VCU; MS and Baccalaureate of Product Innovation; BS of Mass Communication

Nicholas is an experienced entrepreneur and project management professional with a history of successful product/service launches across multiple industries. Nick has a passion for improving our humanitarian and environmental conditions, and founded CandidWorks in 2019 with the mission of making higher education more accessible to those with limited means while providing support to the causes they care about.

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2019 - 2020

Wa’il Ashshowwaf, GUI / API & Strategy

CEO and Cofounder of Unstuck Labs; Founder of Reyets

Harvard; Ex. Ed – Strategy, Georgetown; MS of Business Leadership, CSU BS of MKTG

Wa’il is an impact driven leader, entrepreneur, tech guru, UI/UX designer, and creative startup strategist. His professional experience spans a range of industries including roles at Walt Disney World, Pepsi, HSBC, and cofounding numerous startups. As of Fall 2019, Wa’il and Unstuck Labs partnered with CandidWorks to accelerate the business and tech development of the current CandidWorks user interface.

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Charles Castelly, Finance & Partnership

Director of Business and Partnerships at Unstuck Labs

Mary Washington; BS of Liberal Studies – Leadership and Management

Charles Castelly has a long history of service spanning from his role in the military, to providing business development assistance for over 50 start-ups through his work at Unstuck Labs. Charles is an experienced entrepreneur, and with extensive experience in business finance and expansion. Since partnering with CandidWorks this Fall, Charles has been integral in model development and networking.

OUR Partners



UnStuck Labs

CandidWorks is a current partner of UnStuck Labs in Rosslyn Virginia. Unstuck Labs is a multidimensional start-up accelerator that assists in taking big ideas to a deliverable level. Unstuck Labs is a digital agency that specializing in providing companies with a variety of technical services, including website and mobile app development. And the founders are entrepreneurs and dreamers in their own right: They believe in, and invest in other products and companies, as well.

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Virginia Commonwealth University da Vinci Center

CandidWorks is a current partner of Virginia Commonwealth University’s da Vinci Center. The VCU da Vinci Center provides cutting edge, innovation-based programs focused on merging the study of arts, business, and engineering into real world problem solving and entrepreneurship. The VCU da Vinci Center has been a support platform for entrepreneurial education, networking, and planning for our projects early stage development.


Become a partner in supporting the social, environmental, and educational causes you care about.

As a start-up focused on social impact, we are constantly looking to connect with any and all entities who are interested in our social, environmental, and educational improvement. If you are part of a charity / non-profit that could use support - a commercial venture looking to give back and support the community while supporting education – or even have a bright new idea for service, contact CandidWorks at! We look forward to hearing from you, and, as always – wish you and all those you impact the best in all your endeavors!

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