Blog Raises $1M For Inner-City Kids To Visit Harvard — In One Week

Photo: Via @humansofny.
UPDATE: This story was originally published on January 23, 2015, with the headline, "Blog Raises $375K For Inner-City Kids To Visit Harvard — In One Day."  As of January 30, the amount raised exceeds $1 million, and the number of donors stands at 37,000 and rising. All funds raised beyond the $700K mark will now be reserved for a scholarship fund for graduates of the Mott Hall Bridges Academy in Brownsville. The original story appears below. 

Growing up in New York City can be hard, no matter who you are. But, for the city's thousands of underprivileged kids — who are often surrounded by violence and poverty, and have few opportunities for advanced education — the future can seem especially bleak. 

In Brooklyn's Brownsville neighborhood, which has the highest crime rate in the city and 40% of its residents living below the poverty line, many children do not graduate from high school, let alone make it to college. Higher education may not even be on their radar. But, what if they were able to see what a real college campus is like, firsthand? What if that campus also happened to be one of the most prestigious schools in the country? 

Brandon Stanton, founder of the popular Humans of New York blog (which spotlights and shares the stories of regular, everyday New Yorkers) hopes to answer that question. Working together with the principal and vice-principal at the Mott Hall Bridges Academy in Brownsville, Stanton created an Indiegogo campaign with the goal of raising $100,000 that would be used to send incoming sixth grade students on a trip to Harvard every year. 

As Stanton explains on the fundraiser page, "Based on some back-of-the-envelope calculations, we estimate the cost of a trip, including transportation and lodging, will be about $30,000. I chose $100,000 because that will safely fund a trip for three different classes over three years." 

The campaign went live yesterday. As of 5:30 p.m. today, the goal has not only been met, it has been met nearly four times over. In just one day, Stanton has raised $375,000 courtesy of some 13,000 donors — and with 13 days left to donate, we have a feeling that number is going to rise significantly. Either way, it will be enough to fund the annual trips for years to come. 

It's a sweet story, to be sure. But, does it do anything to address to the all-too-real burdens that these students (and countless others like them) face every day? No. Will all of the Mott Hall sixth graders ultimately go on to enroll at Harvard themselves? Probably not. But, if these trips can help to broaden the perspective of even a handful of kids who might otherwise have no concept of a place like Harvard, and encourage them to commit to their education and pursue their dreams, then it will have succeeded in some small way. And, that's something all New Yorkers should be able to get behind.

If you'd like to support the campaign, you have until February 5 to make a donation, here.

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