July 15, 2013
Peer funding, or crowdfunding, is one of the most interesting sides to the Internet, in my opinion. Some of the projects that get funded are beyond amazing, like the ARKYD space telescope that raised $1.5 million. But popular platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo draw the line at actual projects.
That is, if you are not funding something that can be completed, you are out of luck. Jennifer Thomas took a page from the annals of these crowdfunding platforms when she decided to create Project Travel, but she designed it with a specific purpose in mind: meaningful student travel.
Project Travel answers an age-old question that a lot of high school, college, and post-graduate students encounter: I want to study abroad, but what happens if my financial aid and scholarships will not cover the cost?
Every year, students want to expand their horizons and visit a different country, whether they are studying abroad, volunteering, working, interning, or service learning. However, the bottom line remains; the cost is higher than the average student budget.
Since students need to spend tens of thousands of dollars every semester for tuition, books, and housing, meaningful student travel opportunities tend to get sidelined rather quickly.
“As a student, I struggled with affording travel, but was eventually able to make it to Lisbon, Portugal,” says Thomas. “I kept thinking that somebody should create a better option for funding student travel.”
Thomas did not just want to create a crowdfunding platform and call it a day. She wanted to develop a way for students to engage their entire community. Thus, their friends, family, and acquaintances could center on helping them achieve their goals.
Project Travel operates on the idea that if you can reach out to a dedicated community, it will in turn support you on your journey. This inherently makes Project Travel personal and relevant to those who seek funding or want to donate.
More importantly though, it offers students a way to share their unique travel story from start to finish. Students plan their trip, explain why they want to go and what it means for them, and then present their ideas to their community to start the funding process.
“Helping our first Project Starter reach his goal was certainly a huge day for us at Project Travel,” says Thomas. “Expanding my dream of helping young people through student travel, and bringing it into reality, has been amazing.”
This summer, Project Travel was invited to participate in Coolhouse Labs, a Michigan-based accelerator program. The experience from Coolhouse Labs will ensure that Thomas is able to sustain the thriving community she has always dreamt of as Project Travel moves forward.
Project Travel will be featured at Tech Cocktail’s Chicago Mixer & Startup Showcase on July 25th.
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