Bond trader turned photographer Brandon Stanton started the blog Humans of New York in 2010 when he was fired from his finance job in New York. Little did he know when he began his blog that one day it would have close to 12 million followers on Facebook and enough influence to raise large sums, to the tune of $1 million and counting, for a worthy cause.
The surge of money was sparked when Stanton posted a picture of Vidal, a 13-year-old student at Mott Hall Bridges Academy in Brownsville, Brooklyn. Accompanying the photo was a quote from Vidal praising the principal of his school.
“When we get in trouble, she doesn’t suspend us” he said. “She calls us to her office and explains to us how society was built down around us. And one time she made every student stand up, one at a time, and she told each one of us that we matter.”
The January 20 post elicited a viral response of over 1 million “likes” motivating Stanton to go visit the school and speak with Principal Nadia Lopez. Stanton then decided to launch a campaign to raise $100,000 for the school. He would like to send incoming sixth graders to visit Harvard University. The money will also be used to create a scholarship fund named for Vidal, who will also be the fund’s first recipient.
“Before all of this happened for our school, I felt broken” Lopez told a student assembly on Wednesday. “A lot of bad things have been happening lately, especially between black people and white people. But all of you gave people a reason to feel a little less broken.”
The online campaign elicited donations from 35,000 people since January 22, already raising over $1 million, with another eight days to go.
“Your donations have given a heavy boost to a group of scholars and educators in their battle to establish a culture of success in a disadvantaged neighborhood” Humans of New York wrote on its Facebook page.