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Enterprising Teacher Is Crowdsourcing the Cost of Harvard Grad School

Donors who chip in to send Philadelphia English teacher Zac Chase to Harvard will get access to his educational experience.

After the thrill of college acceptance letters comes the reality of figuring out how to pay the cost to actually attend the school of your choice. One Philadelphia English teacher, 30-year-old Zac Chase, has a creative solution to funding his master's in education policy and management program at Harvard: He's crowdsourcing the cost.

Chase told the Philadelphia Inquirer that the idea came to him because the school he's taught at for the past four years, Science Leadership Academy, has such a strong entrepreneurship and social media focus. He estimates the cost of tuition, room and board at $60,000, so when a merit scholarship fell through and he found that he could only afford to borrow $20,000, the lessons he'd been teaching students inspired his plan to come up with the other $40,000. Chase doesn't want a handout. Instead, he wants funders to consider their donation an investment that they'll get something out of—access to his educational experience. On his "Chasing Harvard" project site, he writes

Funders will receive access to the project blog as well as be guaranteed one public thank you throughout the course of the program. Starting at $40, backers for this project will receive live access to all course notes as they are drafted when available, a weekly multimedia email blast documenting the social highlights of the course of study including music, films, books and television shows. From $80 and up, backers will also be invited to monthly online chats to discuss the program status, content and any issues of relevance. Should the archive be published in book form, all backers will be thanked within the text.


Even though he'll lose an "amazing teacher," SLA principal Chris Lehmann has donated to the teacher's fundraising effort, saying that if it works and Chase gets to go to Harvard, "we'll gain a powerful voice for students in educational policy." According to the stats on the site, 46 contributors have donated $2,780 of the $40,000. With only 6 percent of the money needed raised, Chase does have a plan B if the Harvard effort doesn't pan out by his April 14 fundraising deadline—he'll donate all collected funds to his school.

photo (cc) via Flickr user Grad Student 2007

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