The knowledgeable crowdfunding
Have you ever thought how the future of education looks like? Education has a direct impact on our lifestyle and well-being. Poor education means poor quality life. When tuition fees increase, when education becomes more expensive year by year, we enter a dark side of life. Fewer people get access to education, fewer people get jobs, fewer people can live the life they deserve. There is, however, one solution, very adequate to our ages: crowdfunding. If you think of the world we live in as it is: saturated with technology, software and Internet, you’ll agree with me. I’ve already described to you in detail the different types of crowd-funding ( Check out this article on funding your startup) and I showed you how crowd-funding isn’t in fact so much different from charity, pointing out that without crowd-funding charity will have seen a slow death. With donation-based crowd-funding, introduced by GoFundMe in 2010, we have charity and Internet combined. People can now raise money online, which, if you think about it, is more convenient, comfortable and age-appropriate way to do it, for their needs: injuries, accidents, healthcare costs and personal causes. (Read more…) They can also raise money for educational purposes. This is why I think fit to introduce the knowledgeable crowdfunding, through which people raise money either for their own educational needs, starting campaings on various crowd-funding platforms, for educational tools and resources, such as playgrounds, books, scientific equipment, or for funding educational institutions. Such attitude towards education has stirred the Internet waters. People’s opinions are both positive and negative. The innovators are sometimes praised and cherished for their ambition, vision and practical thinking: the internet lies at our fingers, why not use it for what we need?, and sometimes belittled and criticized, being called “e-beggars”, liars and all kinds of names. I’m going to present you some of the people and organization out there, forcing their destiny, standing out of the crowd and fighting for what they want.
First, the individual persons:
Who hasn’t heard yet about Zack Danger Brown’s crowdfunding project on Kickstarter, who managed to raise more than $52.000 from the goal of $10 for making a potato salad, which as he says, “might not be that good”, because it’s his first? I guess we all have, if you didn’t take a look at my post: His idea of crowdfunding. A potato salad. Now this is great, but I’m going to break the news to you: people trying to fund their studies, don’t manage to raise so much money. It seems pretty interesting how people prefer to give their money for a joke, and I do have a great sense of humor, but not give their cash for someone’s chance to education, and even calling such people “e-beggars” and telling them to go get a job, and earn the money necessary for their education. One of the persons seeking resort to knowledgeable crowdfunding is Nick Gaven, who, as Amelia Tait suggests, is only “one of a thousand” (Read more…). Instead of going for a otato salad, Nick Gaven hoped to raise money on GoFundMe to pay for his Master’s degree. The sad fact is he managed to earn only about £700. Another more promising “e-beggar” for knowledge is Emily-Rose Eastop, who started a campaign on Hubbub, with the goal of raising £26.000 to pay for her tuition fees at Oxford. Her aim was to be able to gain a Master’s Degree in cognitive and evolutionary anthropology. She managed to raise about £23.000, so she wasn’t that far away from meeting her goal. Her campaign, “Get ‘ER to Oxford” arouse turmoil in the media. Here, take a look at her video: As you can see, she’s a good looking woman, who manages to convince with her personality and charm. But that’s not all. Being so passionate about what she was doing and daring to fight to make her dreams come true, she promised her donors to create a blog during her master-course and write in an easy, down-to-earth way about her courses, essays, interesting people she met and talked to, and other interesting topics that she thinks her public would like. However, as Rosin O’Connor points out she was “inundated with negative feedback”( Read more…). She was called a “posh brat”, and as Theo Merz suggests, an exponent of “generation sell yourself”.( Read more…). If you think about it, today education is costly. So, the easy way to get into the system would be to be rich enough to afford it (we don’t all have that luck, like these people I’ve been talking about), benefit from a scholarship (we don’t all have what it takes to deserve it. Kudos to the ones that can), work all your life and save money to have the possibility (on such point Eastop received criticism, but to raise £26.000, when the unemployment rate is so high and one can’t easily find a job, even with a bachelor’s degree, sounds more like a dream to me), or make a loan. Some, can’t even take a tuition fee loan. I’m thinking here about Kate Koenig, whose been cast out by her parents because of her sexual orientation, and didn’t have a person to pledge for her. She, too, is one of the thousands who started a campaign on GoFundMe, in order to raise money so as to continue her studies at the University of Pittsburgh. Why people as Eastop are attacked is not that hard to understand. People are seeing her campaign as a way of selling a brand, and that brand is quite her. She puts her personality, skills, good-looks, charm, persuasion, you name it, at stake, in order to raise the money she needs. In other words, she’s promoting herself and her passion for learning what she likes and deserves, in order to earn the money she needs to fulfill her dreams. Is that so far-fetched? If you’ll look into the broad picture, this happens everywhere around us. It’s in the way we promote goods, artists, brands, etc. I don’t think she’s “selling herself”, she’s just being pragmatic and using all that we’re offered today in her favor. She uses Internet, people and crowdfunding to the benefit of her education. So, if you call charity begging, she’s a beggar. But, just take note: as the clock tick the end of her campaign she managed to get 101% of her goal, that is: £26581.
Second, the organizations:
When it comes to being pragmatic and down-to-earth, there are a few organizations which won’t fail to surprise us. They understood that crowdfunding could work in their favor, and help them build that institution, raise the money for the equipment necessary, for paying teachers and assuring everyone gets access to education. A recent article on Time.com shows how teachers in Chicago turn to crowdfunding to open preschools. Their campaign is named VOCEL and it’s a non-profit one, which wants to offer preschoolers in under-resourced communities education. Their initial aim was to earn $70.000. Their offer the children the opportunity to learn to read and write. They opted for CrowdTilt and in less than 3 months they managed to earn $11.000. I think their story, highly successful on the Internet, is pretty remarkable as these people want to offer early education to children from low-income families. These people don’t just talk the talk, they walk the walk! Here, take a look at their video:
One great example is offered by Rafael Lemarchand (read more…), who talks about a Danish startup, Savivo, whose focus is on educating toddlers and children, and which launched a crowdfunding campaign on IndieGoGo, for its EduWatch & App. In their own words, it’s a waistwatch and an educational app game. Perfect for the kids of our days! Their goal is to raise $10.000, so as to produce and sell these watches. They describe the EduWatch as helpful in a child’s education because it develops the child’s visual memory, it helps them learn to tell time and get to be punctual. It helps children learn how to value time. If you ask me, I find this a great and funny initiative. Take a look at their video.
Third, the crowdfunding platforms:
A great “knowledgeable” ( I own the copy-right of the word :)) ) crowdfunding platform is Hubbub. There seem to be myriad of projects of Hubbub, ranging from raising money for tuition fees, for buying scientific equipment, going on a trip, etc. A recent project aiming for £1500 fund to be raised until the 27th of August is The Annual Physics Student’s Colloquium, held by the University of York Physics Society. They want to share physics among the local students’ community and to students around the country and they’d like to gather an audience of about 300 people, the number they had last year.
A project which ended on the 27th of June was the academic journal VOX. The Club of PEP, that is an organization run by students who study under the School of PEP( Politics, Economics and Philosophy) launched a campaign for an academic project, Vox, which is an academic journal and appears once per term. They managed to raise £1142, out of the initial target of £1200.
Another brilliant example is Stellagy in Africa. As Jonathan Houston points out Africa deals with great problems of youth unemployment and a lack of job seekers with the relevant needed skills. Stellagy uses crowdfunding in order to support children’s education. Jonathan Houston uses great words to describe this process:”A means to make private dreams a reality through collective action. Think LinkedIn + Kickstarter for education in Africa.”( Read more…). Stellagy, as its founder declared, is focused on offering connections, the site’s theme being gathering around “journeys”. What I mean is that users create journeys in order to show their goals. This can be personal, institutional, pertaining to a community, or organizational.
DonorsChoose.org is another platform with educational aims, in which professors can launch their campaign so as to raise funds for their projects. The campaigns are part of a wider field, such as Art, Science, Books, Field Trips, Math, etc. If we take a look at the Science section, there are projects for buying scientific and Graphing Calculators for Algebra 1, Algebra 2, and Pre-Calculus, display adapters, materials for inquiry based science projects, which include magnets, wire, amps. There is a campaing for buying a collection of live plants, a Lego Mindstorms Kit for our robotics class. So, you get the picture. What’s really great about this site is that donors can afterwards see if their money was invested in satisfying this needs, so trust is guaranteed and raised between the two sides.
I think you can now look at the broad picture when it comes to crowdfunding for education. I’ll let you decide whose side you take: if you are with these people, or against them. Just remember that they fight for an enlightening and enriching purpose: Education, for themselves and for the others. They send us all a message: even if you don’t have the money, you can struggle to get it, because there are people out there willing to help you. You only need to let them know. When it comes to criticism, sure, to gossip, sneer at and criticize we’re all great at and we can do it all day long, but think about it: if a man can start a crowdfunding campaign for making a potato salad and thrive, why not nodding our heads when people raise money for educational purposes. Let me know what you think.
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