Crowdfunding for Cash

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Student Salina Vang Finds a Unique Way to Pay for School

Salina Vang at UMD

Getting a college education is not cheap. People usually get loans and multiple jobs while taking classes. However, one first year student used a unique way to pay for part of her first year at UMD.

Salina Vang, business major and human resources minor, successfully raised $2,077 through a crowdfunding campaign.

Vang is from a low income family, and she has nine siblings. Vang’s older brothers and parents struggled to help her to pursue her dream, to get a college education. At one point, she wasn’t sure if she could go to college at all. It all changed when a teacher in her college prep program, TRIO Upward Bound and College Possible at Edison High School in Minneapolis, encouraged her to try crowdfunding.

Vang set up her own gofundme page easily.  Sharing it on social network systems such as Facebook and Twitter helped her spread the word to friends and family. They contributed the first $200.

The big break for Vang came when a Twin Cities television station, KARE 11, saw her gofundme page. They wanted to feature her for a news story and when she said yes, the filming crew arrived within hours.

“That night, I was watching the show when the phone starting ringing. people wanted to donate. My parents especially were very happy,” said Vang. It took only 20 minutes after Vang's story aired for her to raise an additional $1000.

National Public Radio saw the KARE 11 TV show and few days later they ran a story as well. Vang said that many of donors wrote messages showing support for her getting an education. "It made me realize how important it is to go to college," said Vang.

UMD alumni also saw the news about Vang in the media and contributed to her campaign. Kait Lindsley posted on the gofundme site: “I went to college at UMD. It’s a great school! Like yourself, I come from a large, low income family who could not afford to help me pay for school. Though it’s not much, I hope this will help you buy the things you need to be successful at school.” Ryan McCormick said, “Good luck at UMD! It's a good school and my alma mater. I don't know you, but it doesn't matter, here's a $100, use it toward your education, and have fun."

Vang is thankful. “I wouldn’t have been this prepared for college if it wasn’t for the help I got from all those people,” said Vang. Vang felt the donations gave her the support to pursue her dream.

Vang saved $1000 of the money she raised for spring semester. She spent the rest purchasing school supplies and books. Because of crowdfunding, Vang is a first in her family to go to college. With the help of many kind people, Vang can pursue her dream in UMD.

Salina's gofundme webpage.
NPR story.
KARE 11 story.

by Cheryl Reitan and Dayae Kim, September, 2014

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