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Crowdfunding is new at Elizabethtown College

Posted December 19th, 2013 by admin

Crowdfunding is new at Elizabethtown College

It is a brave new world and it is time to crawl into it. Crowdfunding is new, so new that my spell checker doesn’t recognize the word yet. Elizabethtown College Office of Sponsored Research and Programs has launched crowdfunding as an innovative means to support undergraduate research projects. This is a new program and the first application is targeted to support Recharging The Gambia, a project where undergraduate students from the departments of Engineering and Business are working together to help local Gambians to establish a business that will manufacture and sell cell phone solar chargers in The Gambia. http://sponsor.etown.edu

Dr. Rick Basom leads the innovation to bring crowdfunding to Elizabethtown College. At a recent Innovation Café event sponsored by Penn State Hershey’s Office of Technology Development, Rick was networking to learn about crowdfunding websites. After diligent research and evaluation, Rick selected a website that fits the goals of the program. It creates a webpage that is branded with the Elizabethtown College logo. That is an important feature because students will be using social media to promote funding their projects. The College brand is essential when you’re telling everyone you know to tell everyone they know to participate. While the initial projects that will employ crowdfunding are not for profit, there is a potential to apply it to future commercial endeavors at Elizabethtown College.

Crowdfunding can become a student driven program. Todays’ students embrace social media in their daily routines to communicate and network. Social media can be used to advertise their crowdfunded projects. Starting in the Spring 2014 term, some of the projects in the Summer SCARP program, http://www.etown.edu/offices/research/summer-scholarship.aspx, will be developing crowdfunding campaigns to provide the funds needed in their research projects. Down the road, a goal may be to make this part of the undergraduate research program as means for students to acquire 21st century skills in creating funding sources. It may also be means to create real world learning teams that include students in business, marketing, graphic arts and technologies. All of these disciplines are important in creating and monitoring a crowdfunding effort to attract contributors whether it be in “real world learning” or the real world!