Homeless Skid Row Teen Crowdfunds His Way Into Howard University

James Ward spent much of his life homeless, living in shelters and sometimes on the dangerous streets of Los Angeles’ Skid Row neighborhood. Yet, despite his personal circumstances, the young man is now attending Howard University.

Speaking to The Today Show, the young student explains, “I used to hide it from people… But now, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized there was nothing to be embarrassed (about) to begin with.”

Despite his personal situation, the young man worked his way through high school and was even accepted into Howard University. There was just one problem. He didn’t have the money needed to attend the prestigious school. Eventually, Jessica Sutherland, a volunteer at L.A.’s Union Rescue Mission, heard about Wards predicament and decided to help.

Jessica quickly setup the James Fund, a website that asks strangers to donate towards James’ college efforts. The nation’s most prestigious HBCU (historically black college or university) isn’t cheap, and, although he had 70 percent covered by scholarships, loans, and grants, he still needed $14,000.

The young mans story soon went viral when the rapper Common shared his story. James even created the Tumblr blog, Homeless to Howard, which chronicles his journey.

Only one week after the campaign started James raised enough money to attend the school that has produced Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison, and Academy Award-nominated actress Taraji P. Henson.

James Ward still needs to raise three months worth of tuition, but he’s now confident that he will receive the help he needs. As James explains to Today: “No matter who you are in life, there’s always someone out there to help you … or someone out there that you can help.”

As James Ward explains on his blog, he plans to pay forward the generosity of strangers by helping his own family and then others in need.

Here is the amazing teens full interview: