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iSchool Launches Crowdsourced Fuel Program Funding Campaign

By: Diane Stirling
(315) 443-8975

Crowdfunding campaign in higher educationThe Syracuse University school whose national reputation is built on innovation in the information field has just initiated a student programs development campaign with some twists. The effort is modeled on the crowdsourced style of fundraising, and it uses a proprietary online system built by current students and recent graduates.

The School of Information Studies (iSchool) “iSchool Fuel Challenge” kicks off October 1. The online, crowdsourced initiative lasts for 60 days. Fundraising provides support to five signature student programs. The appeal reaches out to faculty, staff, students, alumni, parents, and friends of the iSchool.

Just like its well-known online funding website models, contributors and others who are interested will be able to watch the campaign’s progress as it occurs online and in near real time. As donations accrue and contributions come in, the total amounts raised for five signature iSchool programs benefiting students can be tracked on a dedicated website: http://fuel.ischool.syr.edu.

Five Signature Programs
The “Fuel” campaign is designed to fund five highly regarded iSchool programs that provide direct benefit and real-world experiences to students:

  • It Girls Overnight Retreat, which brings young women to campus from seven states and dozens of high schools to enjoy a weekend iSchool experience, exposing them to information and computing career opportunities and the potential of iSchool and SU college enrollment;
  • New Librarianship, a program that funds professional development opportunities for library science master’s students to attend workshops and conferences which will help them become involved in the field and in “libraries of the future” conversations;
  • Student Immersion, which assists deserving students who might not otherwise be able to afford to experience any of nine immersion experiences, from entrepreneurship company trips to IT-field discovery trips abroad;
  • Student Sandbox, the iSchool-hosted entrepreneurship experiential learning program in which students produce revenue-generating entities and investment-ready new firms;
  • Students of Promise, whichprovides critical financial resources to students whose beyond-the-norm circumstances or family emergencies might otherwise force them to leave school.

Student-Created
Modeled after successful online crowdfunding platforms such asKickstarter and Indiegogo, the online campaign and website was created and built by iSchool students and iSchool staff professionals. Andrew Bauer ’13, provided website development. Eric Cleckner ’10, G’13, did the website graphic design. Jared Mandel, ’13, provided videography for student and staff videos which describe the programs and the impact they have on individual learning and professional experience.  

“We want to especially thank and acknowledge the contributions of current and recent graduate students, whose skill and knowledge have been central to this innovative effort. Their efforts illustrate what an iSchool education, and belonging to the iSchool family, is all about,” noted Dean Elizabeth Liddy.  

Social Sharing
The campaign also was designed for social-media sharing. Contributors can share news of the campaign’s progress (such as when they make their gifts) and boost awareness through their own networks, said Scott Barrett, assistant dean for advancement at the iSchool. The site provides easy updates for Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platform-sharing via the campaign hashtag, “#iFuelChallenge.”

Clarvit’s Challenge Gift
To prompt the involvement of other alumni and to provide a leadership challenge gift to create momentum for the 60-day, crowdsourced initiative, alumnus Sam Clarvit, ’10, has provided a $5,000 challenge gift for the current School of Information Studies’ “Fuel the Future” campaign.

Each contribution made to the programs counts as a vote for added funding. At the end of the campaign period, based on the total number of gifts each of the five programs receives, the programs can earn cash beyond the amounts pledged. The program that secures the greatest number of gifts will be awarded $3,000 in challenge funding. The second place program will earn $1,500, and the third place program will earn $500 from Clarvit’s contribution (in addition to the monies contributed by donors).

For more information and to make a gift and watch the campaign’s progress, visit the website.

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