Brandon Stanton had a simple idea to help kids from a low-income school in Brooklyn — send them to Harvard for a visit, helping them see the dream of college as something they can attain.
But the photographer from the popular Humans of New York blog had no idea just how big it would become. In just one day, a fundraiser to send kids from Mott Hall Bridges Junior High School to Harvard raised more than $500,000, with the total climbing rapidly.
“I want them to have that experience, and the idea of them just planting their feet in the place that they need to go just gives them the hope and the aspirations that it can indeed happen,” said Nadia Lopez, the school’s principal.
In the Indigogo campaign page, Lopez explained that the children are in dire need of strong programs in the summer. Education experts say that students from low-income areas can lose months worth of progress during the summer, returning to school at a deficit that grows larger each year until many eventually drop out.
“We have a major need for a summer program,” Ms. Lopez explained.
“Learning stops during the summer for my scholars. We have what is called a ‘summer slide.’ My scholars can’t even go outside. It’s too dangerous. As an exercise, my teachers broke into small groups and took a walk through the community. We wanted to understand how our students live. We went inside the housing projects. The parks and playgrounds were empty because it’s too dangerous. Even the library isn’t a safe zone. Just last Saturday, one of my scholars had two guns pulled on him while he was walking to the community center. In broad daylight. It’s just too dangerous to be outside, so my scholars stay inside all summer. They aren’t learning to ride horses or drive boats, and they certainly aren’t traveling. They miss out on the enrichment available to children from more affluent neighborhoods. They need a safe place where they can do activities and continue to grow their minds. I tried to put together a program last summer, but I couldn’t afford it. I couldn’t really put together any activities, and I could only use teachers-in-training. I need the funds to put together a program with my own teachers so my students have a safe place where they can continue to grow outside of school.”
Brandon Stanton and the Humans of New York blog has already made the program to send students to visit Harvard a wild success. The fundraiser has raised enough to support the program on a permanent basis.
[Image via Humans of New York]