Ideas to impact: inspiring students through crowdfunding

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Since joining the UNT faculty in 2020, professor and G. Brint Ryan Chair of Entrepreneurship Jeremy Short has presented a unique and impactful challenge to students in his social entrepreneurship class. Each semester, students are tasked with raising a cumulative $10,000 using one of two potential crowdfunding platforms— DonorsChoose (a crowdfunding platform that directly delivers supplies to public schools in the U.S.) or GoFundMe (a crowdfunding platform that supports a wide variety of socialcauses).

This year, to kickoff the challenge, students competed in class by providing their initial project pitches—and the winning team received tickets to see Kendra Scott at the popular UNT Kuehne Speaker Series.

Students Cody Siegfried, Daniela Vara and Mattie Syler won the pitch competition in support of their cause, Shatterproof, “a national nonprofit organization dedicated to transforming addiction treatment, ending stigma and supporting communities." And as attendees of the event, they were given the opportunity to not only listen to Scott speak, but also sit with her team and ask them questions directly.

“Hearing Kendra Scott speak was an unforgettable experience. I enjoyed hearing her perspective on starting from the bottom and getting to where she is now,” explained senior communications major Mattie Syler. “I got the opportunity to ask [Scott’s team] questions about their careers, too, and how they got to where they are now… They inspired me to continue to pursue my goals and acknowledge that it will take time and ambition.”

One of Syler’s goals? To raise money for Shatterproof and create a campaign that motivates people to become educated about a cause she has a personal connection with.

“About four years ago I lost a cousin to a drug overdose. It devastated my family and opened our eyes to the drug crisis in our country,” said Syler. “My aunt has dedicated her life to advocating against drug/alcohol addiction in America and is now an ambassador for Shatterproof.”

Syler and the rest of her classmates will celebrate their campaigns on November 16, during Short's second annual Greensgiving crowdfunding celebration event. The event this year will be held at the UNT Colab, a space that helps connect UNT students to a variety of entrepreneurial experiences and serves to host a number of community events.

Greensgiving will feature a silent auction and live DJ as students work to help fund their campaigns and celebrate their entrepreneurial efforts on behalf of the greater community. To date, Short's class campaigns have created approximately $50,000 for a host of causes including mental health, support for local homeless causes, veterans support and public education.


Class GoFundMe campaigns for nonprofits and DonorsChoose campaigns for public school teachers: