Humans of New York Creator Helps Send Kids To Harvard

Middle school students at the Mott Hall Bridges Academy in Brownsville, New York are headed to Harvard thanks to the fundraiser started by Brandon Stanton, creator of Humans of New York.

Stanton was inspired by a young student named Vidal who took the time to tell him about the most influential person in his life. He told Stanton about his principal, Nadia Lopez, who has proven to be far more than just any middle school principal based on what Vidal says of her.

“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. And one time she made every student stand up, one at a time, and she told each one of us that we matter,” said Vidal.

Stanton was moved by what Vidal had to say about Lopez, so he decided to do something about it. He set up a crowd funding campaign last week for $100,000, which would help the students of Mott Hall Bridges Academy take a trip to Harvard University.

“Since many of her scholars have never left New York, she wants them to know what it feels like to stand on the campus of one of the world’s top schools, and know that they belong. She thinks the experience will broaden their horizons and expand their idea of their own potential,” Stanton wrote on the fundraiser’s page.

Lopez said, “This is a neighborhood that doesn’t necessarily expect much from our children, so at Mott Hall Bridges Academy we set our expectations very high. We don’t call the children ‘students,’ we call them ‘scholars.’ Our color is purple. Our scholars wear purple and so do out staff. Because purple is the color of royalty. I want my scholars to know that even if they live in a housing project, they are part of a royal lineage going back to great African kings and queens. They belong to a group of individuals who have endured so much history and still overcome. 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.”

The $100,000 goal was reached in only 45 minutes! That’s just a drop in the bucket now as donations have piled up to $1,017,740 in less than a week!

The fundraiser is proving to be invaluable as the impact of the funds will extend far beyond an amazing trip to Harvard. The remaining funds will help start a much needed summer program. Lopez said, “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.”

In an update on the fundraiser’s page, Stanton wrote ”I am happy to announce that all funds raised over $700,000 will be reserved for a final purpose. We are starting a scholarship fund available to the graduates of Mott Hall Bridges Academy. A committee of MHBA educators and administrators will choose the recipients each year. We’re going to use the money from our fundraiser to get it started, but we’re also going to lay tracks so that it can hopefully continue to assist scholars for years to come. It will be called The Vidal Scholarship Fund. And the first recipient with be Vidal.”

What an amazing turn of events for a very deserving group of students. The fundraiser is accepting donations until February 5th.

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