That’s all it took to raise more than $30,000 for my fledgling non-profit organization, a U.S. branch of Children and Youth First.
That works out to about $50 a second.
The money will go toward building a new boarding school for 200 underprivileged children at the Life Vision Academy in Nepal, and it’s the direct result of the powerful Thought Into Action Entrepreneurship Institute (TIA) at Colgate University.
Specifically, this was a result of this year’s annual Entrepreneur Weekend on campus. E-Weekend, as it is fondly known, started at Colgate in 2012 when I was a first-year student. That year, our president hosted a Q & A session with Sir Richard Branson. In 2013, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg delivered a speech based on her book Lean In, and last year some of my friends and fellow students presented their startup ideas to an all-star panel that included Ashton Kutcher.
I’ve been a student-entrepreneur in TIA for only eight months. Participants spend one Saturday every month in group and individual workshops, learning from dozens of alumni and parent mentors who travel to Hamilton, N.Y. specifically to help us improve our elevator pitches, pitch decks, and business plans. Between those special Saturdays, we hold conference calls with our mentors and do a whole lot of going back to our respective drawing boards.
I was given the opportunity to conclude this year’s E-Weekend by pitching my venture on stage at a closing reception in the TIA incubator. I presented the pitch deck I developed at TIA, and I also showed a short video I’d put together with some of the Nepali children sending their messages of hope and thanks to the Colgate community.
As the video concluded, many in the audience were in tears. One alum raised his hand and pledged $10,000 if others would match it. Immediately, hands went up all over the room, sparking an impromptu fundraising firestorm. From the oldest alumni to the youngest undergraduates, audience members dug into their pockets. There have been entire years when Life Vision Academy didn’t see that much money. Raising so much in such a short amount of time left me speechless.
“I don’t think this could have happened at another school,” said Wills Hapworth, TIA’s alumni executive director.
That was all I could say after the event as well; this could not have happened without Colgate. Our network of alumni, parents, students, and faculty is unlike what other institutions can offer, and I would have never had the platform – or the skills and confidence – to share Life Vision Academy’s story with them if it weren’t for TIA.
The Colgate community has truly taken one undergrad’s idea and turned it into collective action. I have two favorite schools in the world, and to see the one in Hamilton, N.Y. unite like this with the one in Bhaktapur, Nepal has been unbelievable.
It’s amazing how much can change in 10 minutes.
Amanda Brown graduated this past spring with a major in Peace and Conflict Studies and a minor in Religion. She was one of the Colgate Entrepreneurs Fund winners and was awarded a $15,000 grant for her non-profit. Amanda will continue working with CYFUSA while pursuing a Masters degree in either education policy or human rights.