Update: In less than a week, nearly 35,000 people raised more than $1 million to send the students at Mott Hall Bridges Academy on a tour of Harvard University. And there are still eight days remaining in their endeavor.
With the unexpected amount of money that poured into the school, educators earlier this week decided to establish a scholarship fund available to the graduates of the school, which is located in Brooklyn, New York. A student identified as “Vidal” is the first recipient of what will be called “The Vidal Scholarship Fund.”
Brandon Stanton takes portraits of all sorts of people around New York City and posts the images with a blurb about each individual to his “Humans of New York” blog. Earlier this week, Stanton found a young boy and asked: “Who’s influenced you the most in your life?” The child answered, “my principal, Ms. Lopez,” because instead of suspending students for their wrongdoings, she brings them into her office and discusses their importance to society.
“One time she made every student stand up, one at a time, and she told each one of us that we matter,” said the boy, who isn’t named in the blog.
Hours later, Stanton photographed Nadia Lopez at her school, Mott Hall Bridges Academy, located in the Brownsville neighborhood of Brooklyn.
“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,” Lopez told Stanton. “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 staff doesn’t refer to the children as “students.” “We call them ‘scholars,’” Lopez added, because “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.”
Stanton is working with the school to raise money for annual class trips for incoming sixth graders to tour Harvard University, located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, at the beginning of each year. A few hours after they created an online fundraising campaign on Thursday, they raised $185,000, enough to fund the initiative for six years. By Friday morning, the school had raised more than $350,000. Their original goal was to raise $100,000.
“Since many of [Lopez’s] 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,” a message on the fundraising page said.
Stanton initially began his photography project with the goal of taking 10,000 portraits of people and pasting the images on a map of the city. But his creation quickly developed, and his pictures eventually turned into a best-selling book.