WATCH ABOVE: The creator of the “Humans of New York” blog has managed to raise $350,000 on Indiegogo to send a group of underprivileged students to Harvard. Nicole Bogart reports.
TORONTO – The “Humans of New York” blog has been sharing stories of New York City residents for over four years. But now the blog is helping provide once-in-a-lifetime experiences for inner-city youth.
An Indiegogo campaign started by Humans of New York creator Brandon Stanton has raised over US$350,000 to fund a trip to Harvard University for sixth graders from Mott Hall Bridges Academy in Brownsville, Brooklyn.
The initial goal of the campaign was US$100,000 – enough to fund one trip a year for three years.
That goal was met in less than an hour.
It all started when Stanton posted the portrait of a young boy on his blog. When asked who has influenced his life the most the boy responded, “My principal, Ms. Lopez.”
“When we get in trouble, she doesn’t suspend us. She calls us to her office and explains to us how society was built down around us. And she tells us that each time somebody fails out of school, a new jail cell gets built,” the boy told Stanton.
“And one time she made every student stand up, one at a time, and she told each one of us that we matter.”
Four days later, the Humans of New York Instagram page was updated with a new story – this time from Principal Lopez herself.
“This is a neighborhood that doesn’t necessarily expect much from our children,” she told the blog.
“When you tell people you’re from Brownsville, their face cringes up. But there are children here that need to know that they are expected to succeed.”
Brownsville, N.Y. is located in eastern Brooklyn and has long been known as one of the most dangerous neighbourhoods in New York City.
The neighbourhood has the highest concentration of public housing in all of the U.S., according to Time magazine. Nearly 40 per cent of its residents are below the poverty line.
In 2013, there were 72 shootings and 15 murders in the area, which spans just over three square kilometres, according to statistics from The New York Times.
“There’s a saying in Brownsville that says if you’re 25, you’re either dead, or in jail or you’re done with the gang life,” Brooklyn photographer Reed Young told Time during a 2012 interview regarding his photo series in Brownsville.
According to the Humans of New York Instagram page, after a long discussion about the students at Mott Hall Bridges Academy, Stanton and Lopez decided to create a fund that will provide each incoming 6th Grade class with the opportunity to get out of the city and visit an inspirational new place – Harvard.
Stanton estimates that each trip will be about US$30,000, including transportation and accommodation. According to the Indiegogo campaign, each additional $30,000 raised will provide another class of students with a trip.