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Sunday, August 18, 2013

Social Media Helps Send Homeless Teen to Howard University

Screen Shot 2013-08-17 at 8.55.40 AMWords by Mehka King

Crowd sourcing isn’t just for indie filmmakers and the Hollywood elite. No, regular people can use websites like kickstarter to raise money for almost anything, even to go to Howard university.

19-year-old James Ward raised more than $12,000 for his first year, after launching an online campaign titled, “Homeless To Howard.”

Ward has been updating his progress through a Tumblr page, which appears to have gone live Aug. 6, and is collecting money via a PayPal account. The posts have been highly engaged and Ward’s requests for money have made their way around the web. Teach for America tweeted about the campaign and the rapper Common shared a link to the site.

After the first day alone, Ward raised nearly $2,100. “I would’ve never thought that something we started just a couple of days ago would’ve turned out to become this massive,” Ward said. “However, it makes me feel very happy because I know that although the world may seem like a harsh and cold place, there are some people out there that care and want to give to those in need.”

Since the age of 14, Ward, along with his mom and two younger siblings, has been homeless in California. When times were really hard, they lived in his mom’s car, but otherwise they’ve moved between different shelters and relatives’ homes until they secured a spot at the Union Rescue Mission in Los Angeles’ Skid Row neighborhood in February 2012.

“In the past years, life has been very hectic,” he said. “We had a lot of ups and downs, but through it all, I’ve always managed to keep my grades up and help my younger brother and sister do the same and keep them on the right track as well as myself.”

Despite not having a stable home and attending three different high schools in four years, James graduated from San Pedro High School in June. Determined to attend college, he figured out a plan and made it happen.

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