When I got back to the States at the end of July, I had a thought in my head.
“What am I going to do for my 21st Birthday?”
August 23rd was my birthday, and I wanted this year to be special. I wanted to do something different, something new, something worthwhile.
And that’s when I thought about #Radiance21.
Background Story: SkolaFund
What is SkolaFund, you may ask. Or who is SkolaFund? What do they do? How does it work?
Well, to put it simply, SkolaFund is a web-based platform where students from less-privileged backgrounds can start a campaign to raise money to fund for their studies. Once their campaigns are approved by SkolaFund (after SkolaFund verifies all their information), they have a month to raise their goal through crowdfunding. If they managed to raise their goal, then they get to keep the money. If they do not mean their goal, the money will be refunded to the donors (or the donors will have an option to fund the money to another student’s campaign).
In short, SkolaFund is a crowdfunding site for Malaysian students, kind of like Indiegogo, Fundrazr, YouCaring and the such. It’s been successful thus far, with more than RM20,000 raised for 6 campaigns. Considering how they are less than half a year’s old, it’s a pretty major achievement.
SkolaFund’s website is currently undergoing a major revamp, and they will be releasing the new version of the website sometime in September. The new website will have a lot more features that are not available on the alpha version of the website, including a feature that allows individuals and/or companies to ‘create’ their own scholarships.
So, there’s actually two parts to this story, and I’m writing all of this because I can sense that people would get confused about what it actually is (and because when I talked to people about it, they kept asking me to clarify). So here goes.
Part One: #Radiance21 and the fundraising
This is what’s happening right now.
The short story: I am fundraising for a month on Fundrazr to raise at least $2,100. All the money raised will be matched (by my super awesome Mom), and will be used to create a scholarship on SkolaFund’s new website.
1. Why $2,100?
Well, it’s a nice number, and it’s significant to me turning 21 years old.
2. Why a month? [Aug 23rd – Sept 22nd]
Well, if people can celebrate Raya for a month, why can’t I celebrate my birthday for a month? 😛
3. Why is your mum matching your funds?
‘Cause my Mum is awesome and that’s her way to show her support to her ‘little girl with a big heart’ (as quoted from her Facebook post).
4. Why do you do it on Fundrazr?
Aizan and I did some research on the possible fundraising sites (Indiegogo, Fundrazr, YouCaring, etc) and we found that Fundrazr is one of the few that provided what we were looking for. We wanted a site that allows both credit/debit card payment and PayPal (since a lot of people have PayPal and would prefer to log in to their PayPal account to donate instead of inserting their credit/debit card number). Most fundraising sites only allow one method of payment, so Fundrazr caught our attention since we’re allowed to use two different methods (WePay for credit/debit card and PayPal).
There are fees to using Fundrazr though, like any other fundraising sites. For every transaction, I’ll have to pay 2.9% + $0.30 for the processing fees, plus a 5% Fundrazr fee. So, for example, if someone donates $21 to my campaign, I pay $1.96 and will only get $19.04. The thing is, only I will be charged with this fee, and the contributors (meaning you) will not have to pay more than what you plan to donate.
5. What requirements are you planning to put for the scholarship?
I am not sure yet. I do not want to put in any specific requirements (like the major or age or anything), ’cause I do not want to limit the scholarship to anyone, but I do also want the scholarship to go to those in need of funding or help during their studies. I will talk to SkolaFund once their website is up and see if they can help me verify the students (or applicants?) to ensure that only those who are really in need are eligible for the micro-scholarship.
6. Why are you doing this?
Because as a student, I understand how hard it can be to find funding for university or college. As a sponsored student, it’s easier for me since MARA’s paying for all my tuition fees and give me monthly allowances. But whenever I look at my friends who are funding their studies on their own, I feel like it’s not fair for them.
Scholarships and education loans (PTPTN, MARA, etc) are super limited, and super competitive. Even the smart ones may not be able to secure them. Then, what happens to those less privileged? What happens to those who might not have an insider-connection to these scholarships? What happens to those who are desperately in need of financial assistance for their studies?
That is why I’m doing this. I want to play my part in helping those in need. I want to be a part of a student’s journey to success. I want to help a student realizes their dreams of going to college.
But most of all: I want to create awareness of the issue at hand and help SkolaFund grow. I believe SkolaFund is a great platform for students in Malaysia and I want help them.
Part 2: SkolaFund & the scholarship
While I cannot write specifically who will be getting the money raised as of yet, I can tell you a bit of what would happen once #Radiance21 is over and the money is raised.
1. Pledging some amount of the money to SkolaFund & start a scholarship.
SkolaFund requires individuals/companies who want to start a scholarship to pledge a part of the total amount at the start to show their commitment for the scholarship.
Once the ‘scholarship’ is available on SkolaFund’s website, interested students can apply for the scholarship via SkolaFund’s website. SkolaFund’s team will verify each applicant (cross-checking with the university/college to ensure that the students are really students there and everything). Once they are verified, I can see a list of the applicants and will be able to go through their profiles, and read their stories / responses.
2. Selecting a recipient / giving the full amount.
I want the money to be used solely for tuition fees purposes, and not as pocket money. So once I have selected a recipient for the ‘scholarship’, I will channel all the money to SkolaFund, who will then channel the money to the respective college / university. The student will not get any of the money themselves, but SkolaFund will instead issue the payment to the student’s university for tuition fees payments.
3. What’s next?
Well, I’m not sure what’s next. But what I’m sure is that I want to keep in touch with the student him/herself and get to know them better. I want to build a relationship with them, get to know their stories, learn about their goals and ambitions, things like that. I don’t want things to just end at the ‘scholarship award’. I want to create a life-long relationship and create more opportunities for both of us. Who knows, maybe this person will teach me something new about life and perseverance.
So that’s basically it. The whole thing behind #Radiance21 and SkolaFund. I hope it clears most of the confusion out there about the project. I know that there might be some other questions lingering in your mind, so feel free to hit me up if you have any further questions about it.
Currently, the fundraising has raised $512 out of $2,100, with 26 days left to go.
Please please please do donate some of your money to this cause, and help me spread the words out about it to your friends and families. It will mean a lot to me and I would greatly appreciate your support.
Link to the fundraising website on Fundrazr: http://bit.ly/radiance21
Link to project #Radiance21’s Tumblr: http://radiance21.avh.me
Link to SkolaFund’s website: http://skolafund.com
Until next time, thank you, and stay awesome! May God bless you!