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Blogger raises over $1 million for Brownsville middle school

A popular New York based photo blog has raised over $1 million in less than a week through an online fundraising website to send junior high school students from Brownsville on annual field trips to Harvard University.

It all started when “Humans of New York” founder Brandon Stanton met and photographed a 13-year-old student from Mott Hall Bridges Academy named Vidal.

“Who’s influenced you the most in your life?” Stanton asked the young man.

“My principal, Ms. Lopez,” Vidal told him. “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.”

When Vidal’s words and portrait received over a million “likes” on the Humans of New York Facebook page, Stanton went to Brownsville to meet the hard-working principal.

After a brainstorming session to decide how best the blog’s eight million followers could help students living in the neighborhood with the highest crime rate in the city, a fund was created that would pay for every incoming sixth grade class to go on a field trip to Harvard University.

“Our discussion covered many needs, but we kept returning to one in particular— the limited horizons of disadvantaged youth,” Stanton explained. “Some of them are very much ‘stuck’ in their neighborhood. And many have never left the city.”

Within a few hours of starting the fundraising campaign on indiegogo.com, donations exceeded the $100,000 goal and reached $185,000–enough to fund the Harvard trips for six years.

Within a week, around 30,000 people contributed over $1 million, mostly coming in the form of small sum donations.

Because of the overwhelming support of donors, some of money will also be used to fund summer programs for students and establish a scholarship program called The Vidal Scholarship Fund. Vidal will be the first recipient.

The fundraising campaign will continue until February 5. Visit bit.ly/1E6wNZT to donate.

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