The average college student is full of “what ifs” and “I wish.” Part of the journey of exploration and self- discovery is fraught with these kinds of ultimate questions. While the world is full of obstacles to achieving the seemingly impossible or, at the very least, the highly difficult, occasionally an opportunity arises for a breakthrough.
That is the essence of a program called FUEL Furman, a crowdfunding platform created in partnership with the offices of development and student life.
Any student with a vision for something that would improve their student experience need simply apply to be considered for the program. They map out precisely what they would need to get there—funding, equipment, or infrastructure. Once selected, students and staff ask alumni, parents, and friends to support the projects.
Likened to popular philanthropic avenues Kickstarter and GoFundMe, FUEL Furman features small, attainable goals. The projects are concrete and gifts from $5 to $500 provide a measurable impact. Now in its third year, FUEL Furman has helped to fund Furman Water Walk, a Greek Life Scholarship Fund, TEDxFurmanU, and a start-up project called ClassGet.com. This year, four student projects seek funding.
The Bell Tower Boys, Furman’s all-male student a cappella group, seeks funding for a high school prospective student recruitment tour and to record a signature album. As of March 11, the group met their fundraising goal of $4,000, but any additional funds will be applied to future recruitment tours. Kolby Merryman ’15 is a communication studies major and president of the group. “Bell Tower Boys has been a staple on Furman’s campus for 19 years…when we heard about the FUEL Furman project, we decided to pursue the opportunity to represent our school in a unique way,” he said.
Together with the physics department and the Shi Center for Sustainability, Save our Bikes seeks funding to design and build coverings for on-campus bike racks to protect student bicycles and encourage green transit. Their goal of $5,000 will be used to design and construct the racks themselves, using sustainable materials where feasible. To date, they raised $806 and will use whatever funds generated to build as many coverings as possible.
Stephen Dixon ’15 is a communication studies major with a passion for journalism. He is leading the effort to fund an initiative to increase and expand technological inventory for the Paladin Network, Furman’s only student TV station. The $2,500 goal will improve production quality and hopefully increase membership in the organization. “Donors should support our project because we bring something different to Furman…opportunities to learn about journalism, broadcast technology, and organizational skills. The college experience is all about the development of students and our project is great for that,” said Dixon. The group has raised $406 towards their goal thus far.
In the interest of enhancing “town and gown” relationships between Furman and the surrounding community, Tyler Higgins ’17, an accounting major, and his team created The Makery Project. The project aims to establish an off-campus community gathering space where the Furman and Greenville community can join together “to gather, teach, and make.” In partnership with the art department and the Furman Creative Collaborative, The Makery Project has raised $856 toward its $5,000 goal. “The Makery team saw the FUEL Furman program as not only an opportunity to raise much needed funds, but also to engage with alumni and raise awareness of the grassroots innovation and entrepreneurship movement on campus,” Higgins said.
Fundraising for all four projects will remain open until April 1. For more information, visit the FUEL Furman page or contact program coordinator Justin Rourk ’14, associate director of donor marketing.