More than 300 donors provided more than $21,000, combined, to four Virginia Tech initiatives that were part of a recently concluded pilot of the university’s crowdfunding platform, known as Jump.

Their generosity will allow more than $6,000 in financial aid to be provided through the Beyond Boundaries Scholars program, support the student-led organizing and running of the Relay for Life program, fuel research into concussion prevention in youth soccer, and enable more than 1,200 schoolchildren to have an inspiring experience at the Moss Arts Center.

“Jump empowers our students and faculty to inspire others to support their important programs and research,” said Susan Gill, Virginia Tech’s director of new media. “I’ve already had several discussions with students and research groups about how they might be able to crowdfund in the fall.”

Gill led the crowdfunding site’s April 3 launch in partnership with John Torget, the university’s assistant vice president for leadership gifts and annual giving. The pilot initiative concluded May 18. Applications submitted prior to July 31 for fall semester promotion on the crowdfunding platform will be reviewed starting Aug. 1.

Jump’s name was inspired by the enthusiasm members of the Virginia Tech community show when gathered for sports events or volunteer projects, such as the Big Event.

“It’s natural for Hokies to jump in to help, and crowdfunding fits well with Virginia Tech’s Ut Prosim culture,” Torget said, referring to the university’s motto, That I May Serve. “Launching this platform is a way to make potential donors aware of projects and programs they might not hear about otherwise that match their passion to give back.”

Jack Crockett co-led the student team that raised enough money through the iSupport Student Giving Campaign to provide more than $6,000 in financial aid through the university’s Beyond Boundaries Scholars program.

“We wanted to say thanks to the Virginia Tech community by giving back our efforts to [help] current and future Hokies,” said Crockett, a native of Charleston, West Virginia, who majored in criminology, political science, and sociology, and recently graduated.

Brian Kelleher, a native of Kings Park, New York, who majored in industrial and systems engineering and graduated in May as well, used Jump to raise money for putting on the annual Relay for Life event on the Drillfield.

“This is a great tool for student organizations trying to find outlets to alumni, university officials, and other people who they do not usually come across,” Kelleher said. “I think any student group would be interested in utilizing this tool to raise any funds their organization needs.”

Stefan Duma heads a lab that has led the way in concussion prevention research by developing a helmet rating system. He used the crowdfunding platform to raise money for buying soccer headgear to test.

“As a land-grant university, we are focused on increasing public engagement with science,” said Duma, who is the Harry Wyatt Professor of Engineering and interim director of the university’s Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science. “Preventing sports injuries, especially for youth players, is a topic that people are passionate about, and this [platform] is another way to reach people who are interested in this type of research.”

With some Southwest Virginia public schools cutting arts programming, the Moss Arts Center’s community education efforts become even more important. By crowdfunding through Jump, the center raised enough money to serve more than 1,200 area schoolchildren.

“A crowdfunding project helps raise awareness of what we do,” said Virginia Tech Associate Provost for the Arts and Moss Arts Center Executive Director Ruth Waalkes. “People see the very public performances and exhibitions we present, but they don’t usually see the vast engagement activity and deeper connections we’re making through our programs every day. Bringing arts experiences to children in our region is an essential part of our mission.”

Gill said additional resources, including a toolkit for prospective crowdfunding users, will be added to Jump over the summer.

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