Some people have heard my story and are not impressed. Whether it is because I am a non traditional student or that they see the support that this campaign has gained, or the fact that I am attending an Ivy League school. Whatever the reason, they haven't felt compelled to support because they don't see a real need. To those people I say, ok.
If you think that being a non-traditional student makes me less worthy of support, I respect that. If you believe that the support I have already raised is enough, I won't argue with that opinion. If your opinion that since I am at an Ivy League school, I should be in just the right environment to raise whatever money that is necessary, or that my degree will allow me to bounce back from any debt I incur; I won't argue with you either.
However, there are some people who believe that an investment in me and my family is an investment into the belief that poverty does not have to determine how far a person can go. You believe that I am not only setting an example for my kids, but equipping myself to empower people who don't see a way out of poverty. Your belief in me has led you to give, share, and encourage me. To you, I say thank you!
Because of you, I have had the opportunity to play a part in matching 20 inner city middle schoolers with workplace mentorships at Penn and elsewhere. Because of you, I have had the opportunity to turn Wharton's attention to the the 93% of school aged children who grow up in poverty in the same zip code as the school. Because of you I am well on my way to piloting a program that leverages the power of local businesses to fund and empower local non-profits. It is because of you, that I am leveraging the might name of this university to do work that I believe makes a real difference in real people's lives.
It is to you that I appeal to continue your support. My journey to Penn has not halted my community work. It has empowered it. I now have the institutional support to work on bigger and more complex problems. I wish I could say the same for my financial situation. I am here; my family is here, but we are not in the clear. We are still working to make this trip make financial sense. Any gift you make will help us continue to pay rent, utilities, and keep me in school.
Please consider supporting us with a gift today. You can give financially, share this link on social media, or shoot me a message of encouragement. Any support you can offer is much appreciated.
Last year, I left my safety zone! I left home, quit my job, gave up Facebook, left friends and my old neighborhood. I had no idea what lied ahead. I had no idea that I would end up moving 3 times in 6 months, become the mentee of a top exec at the largest software company in the world, experience the pressure that led 2 classmates to commit suicide this year, rock my first college house show, drop way below a 4.0 gpa, visit the Council on Foreign Relations, meet an US Ambassador for a briefing at United Nations, and deliver my first TED talk [video included].
Ups"¦Downs"¦And all around"¦All the highs and lows gave my psyche whiplash from the sharp turns of this ride. However, I am on this ride to get the prize! I need that degree! This new year has given me a new outlook. I don't have it all figured out, but I do have one thing figured out"¦ This will be the making of me!
This journey to Penn has been one full of extreme highs and lows. The highs include building relationships with leaders who make decisions that affect millions of people, an opportunity to speak at my first TED conference, access to elite career mentors, and world-class instruction.
However, the lows have also been noteworthy. They include our need to move the third time since leaving Indianapolis, living off of loans, and the stress involved with an ever-changing lifestyle.
The truth is, there will always be surprises when embarking on the unknown. My family had no idea that the benefits or cost of this move would be so great. However, we are committed to completing this journey!
As I mentioned, we will be picking up and moving again for the 3rd time since this June. [Email me for details] Though we would rather not move during the winter and hate creating instability for our children, it is imperative that we find safe and habitable housing for our family.
What are we doing:
I am applying for several scholarships/fellowships to cover the expenses of my studies. Any additional funding I am able to secure will reduce the amount of loans that go to tuition, and eventually begin to reduce our need to use loans for living expenses. While attending school full-time, I have maintained a 20 hour/wk schedule with Wharton Social Impact Initiative. [currently, I am taking a break in order to move]
What do we still need:
Supporters can help us continue this journey by considering a one-time or monthly contribution. This will provide the up front capitol needed for the move. A contribution can also help us to begin the next semester knowing that even if we must max out our loans, we will have all the basic academic and living expenses covered.
The new overall financial goal has been increased to reflect our aspiration to complete this journey in reasonable financial standing (without 70-100k in loans).
Yesterday, I had the opportunity to do something that I never thought I'd be able to do; I gave my 1st TED Talk. Even though most people have this as an item on their "bucket list", only a few people get the opportunity to make it a reality.
What did I talk about?
I spoke about this amazing journey that you have joined me on. My journey has taken me from the stage to the classroom in the most unlikely fashion. My speech reflected on the ups and downs of this journey: how smarts, talent, and drive allowed me to see many high points, but weren't enough to carry me through the low points. I will share video from this event as soon as it is made available.
Where am I at in my journey?
Currently, I am working at my studies as well as balancing life as a father, husband, full time student, and Wharton Social Impact Fellow. I am applying to both summer internships and summer courses. It is my hope to do some combination of work and study this summer.
Where can you help?
Experiencing great moments while still needing help is nothing new to me. However, it is still a challenge show both success and need. The fight to stay in school is more of a financial fight than anything. If you are committed to continuing this journey with me, please consider helping me reach my goal before the end of the year. A contribution today, will help my family continue to make the most of this incredible opportunity!
For the last month, I have been reading books, writing papers, initiating study groups, and navigating the landscape at University of Pennsylvania. Oh, and also having an amazing time working with Wharton Social Impact Initiative. This has been both a terrifying and amazingly rewarding experience!
Recently, I had an opportunity to talk about my experience with Voices of Penn. Visit this link to see the profile: www.facebook.com/voicesofpenn
I am intent on making the most of the opportunities that Penn has to offer. This can only be done if I am able to afford to stay.
It is not too late join me in this journey. Consider making a contribution today!
We are just below 50% of our goal and this is a very critical time. The Fall semester starts in just a few weeks and upfront fees (books, software, supplies) are approaching.
Through your help, we have been able to move our family from Indianapolis, Indiana to Bear, DE and then to Wilmington. The time before our move was the first critical point. We had so many expenses involved with moving that it looked like we wouldn't have enough to cover expenses once we arrived.
The second critical point was when our first house flooded. This was devastating and expensive! However, with the help of God and friends like you, we were able to cover the unexpected expenses of an emergency move.
Right now, is the time frame that I transition from working a full-time internship at Wharton to full-time studies. Obviously, a drop in income and a jump in expenses is a tense situation. I am looking for your help so that I can start this semester strong.
With your help, my family can transition from summer to school.
If you were waiting for the most impactful time to make a contribution, this is the time.
Thank you again for helping make this dream a reality!
We have just reached 44% of our goal. Thank you to everyone who has shared our story. It is helping! To date, we have received 47 online and offline donations; 333 Facebook shares; 30 tweets; and 5 shares on Linkedin.
Please keep our family in your prayers during these last days before the semester starts. Remember that every financial gift helps us start this first semester strong.
The Philadelphia Tribune put us on the cover!!
That's right, the Philly Tribune contacted me because they were interested in how my family is using GoFundMe to finance our move and my pursuit of a degree from University of Pennsylvania.
I was excited to receive the call. I'm even more excited that they put our story of the cover!
I am excited to share what has happened since my last update.
1. We found a home. After being born and raised in the Midwest, my family now lives on the east coast! We moved into our current house after a bumpy landing. We are now getting settled into what will hopefully be our last stop for a while.
2. My family's story caught the attention of a few more local and national media outlets. Please see links below:
3. The GoFundMe Campaign
Because of the help of friends, (old and new) family, and colleagues; the campaign has raised 30% of the goal. That's $9,245 raised by 45 people in 90 days! Gifts have ranged from $5 to more than $3,000. The campaign will run through the end of the year. [There is still time to give!]
Thanks again for your support!
#ivy2ivy United States Congressman Andre Carson recorded this message encouraging you to support from Ivy Tech to the Ivy League. Please consider making a donation today and sharing this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QwD69ogiROs
"Look, let's be straight. What I'm interested in is paying the least possible amount of money for anything that will get me a photograph of my chairman with happy starving kids." -Main Board Executive Director of one of the UK's Biggest 10 Corporations
This is how many corporation executives think about their own "Giving Back" Initiatives. Rather than look for strategies to profit from good deeds, many corporations would rather settle for a photo op in exchange for little or no investment. For this reason, I am making the career shift to Corporate Social Responsibility. I think that it is important that communities have a voice against their exploitation by major corporations, worldwide. The area of the world that I would like to focus on is West Africa.
Acceptance into the University of Pennsylvania offers a great opportunity to for me to get a research-based understanding of corporate social responsibility. A degree in International Relations offers a great opportunity enter the Corporate Social Responsibility field with an educated context (people, languages, customs, social environment) of the West Africa region. My goal is to combine my understanding of Asset Based Community Development with my studies of the region to impact the way that corporations approach their work in West Africa.
Q.Why do you want to go to an Ivy League school?
A. The answer is really simple: Opportunity. Our communities are withering because lack of opportunity. I have a very special opportunity to go further than anyone from my childhood. It is my duty to take this opportunity and make it a win for myself and those around me. This expanded network and resource pool give me the opportunity to do more for my family and community.
Q. What will you do with a degree from UPenn?
A. I would like to use my degree to start a career in Corporate Social Responsibility. I would like to work with corporations to increase their social impact in communities by utilizing the principles of Asset Based Community Development.
Q. What will this mean for your family?
A. My kids will witness my family's sacrifices and understand the true value of education. They will also see the direct connection between education and profession. I have shown my family the pain that comes with talent plus hard work minus credential. I want to show them the life that can be created from hard work, talent, and an Ivy League education!
See the picture of my wife below in her University of Pennsylvania shirt. Donate today to help us get closer to our dream!
A journey is always great when you have the support of friends! My family at Ivy Tech and the Nina Scholars Program have helped me by believing in me when I was sure that I had too much goal and not enough talent.
Once again they have shown support for another one of my wildly ambitious and an crazy goals. Will you join them today and support From Ivy Tech to Ivy League?
Last year, I was accepted into the University of Pennsylvania. This changed everything. My goals became more agressive, more serious, more focused. I now had more than blind faith that my family would live a life above the bare essentials. This campaign is about making that dream come true. I am raising money to to support my family through this return to full time studies at one of our nation's most prestigious educational institutions. Though, my journey to the Ivy League may seem unique I want to prove that with the sopport of a strong network, it is extremely doable for people who come from where I am from.
My Story In high school I barely was a B student. I became so disenchanted with the educational environment that I wondered if I had the motivation to finish high school.
After graduating, I pursued music with school completely in my rear view mirror. Nothing has impacted my adult life more than my decision to pursue my hip hop dreams instead of college. I tell all about this in a speech I delivered to State Farm's Student Success Summit . Ten years after making this decision I was struggling to take care of my family of 6 and wishing I had a degree. However, basic needs: rent, food, gas, and diapers, etc., meant that school was not an option unless it was bringing money into the home. The choice seemed like a no-brainer; forget school and look for a good paying job. even though it seemed like a long shot, I was determined to find a way to go to school and bring money into the home at the same time. When I enrolled at Ivy Tech Community College, I found out that the Nina Mason Pulliam Legacy Scholarship allow me to do just that.
Ivy Tech To Acceptance into an Ivy League College?
My first and only goal during the first semester of school at Ivy Tech was to do well enough not to flunk out. That was it. However, after earning a 4.0 for 3 semesters in a row, I began to see that I had much more to accomplish in academia... What if I could keep earning these kind of grades? Are there honor societies for community college students? What schools scout high performing community college students?
What I quickly learned was that my success in the classroom was about to open some very interesting doors. Because of my success, I began to be introduced to executive level leadership at my school, received an invitation from the largest academic honor society in the world, and received all types of solicitations from schools. Some of the messages had direct scholarship offers of up to $40,000. I received mail from Harvard, Yale, the University of Chicago and many, many more. Overall, I received more than 400 invitations to apply from colleges and universities by mail, email, and sometimes telephone.
Why am I raising funds?
I need help! I moved my wife and four kids across the country to a pursue an Ivy League Education. Along with the expenses that we incurred with the move, we quickly learned that living on the east coast can cost almost double what life costs in the midwest.
Help me raise $30,000 to support my family as I pursue full time studies at Penn.
If you would like to be apart of this great endeavor, here are 3 ways to help:
1. Give a gift: Donate HERE Today 2. Share the link with your social network on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, etc. 3. Host a party: (This is a great way to support if you have a strong network of possible supporters. You invite the people. I share my story. I make the appeal. We reach the goal!)
If you can think of another way to support, I am very interested in hearing your ideas.
Thank you again for helping me pursue this excellent opportunity at University of Pennsylvania.
Casey Bridgeford 317-250-6597
----------------- Bio Casey Bridgeford is an award-winning American hip hop artist and community builder. Artistically known as "iLL Holiday"; his music drives listeners to live positive lifestyles. He also writes for a blog ( www.illholiday.com) where he shares new music, fashion, and culture from around the globe. Casey's community work has allowed him to develop his city's first and only city-wide peace tour and be honored by Citizen's Energy Group as one of its 125 Leaders. He currently works to develop young professionals who are passionate about impacting their community. Learn more about Casey "iLL Holiday" Bridgeford at the following links: Casey's TED Talk: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=egXGwITZRAE Linkedin:www.linkedin.com/in/caseybridgeford ILL Holiday Dot Com: www.illholiday.com
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