The 13-Year-Old Who Raised 1 Million Dollars

By Jared Hernandez, Staff Writer

In 2010, Brandon Stanton, an unemployed photographer, launched a blog telling stories of the people that inhabit New York. Every day, Brandon posted a picture of someone that he found on the street, along with part of their story and called it “Humans of New York.” Five years later, Humans of New York has gained 8 million followers on social media and has become a widely known blog.

On January 19th, 2015, Brandon met Vidal, a 13 year old that attends Mott Hall Bridges Academy. Brandon asked Vidal who influences him the most in his life and Vidal answered “My principal, Ms. Lopez…she told each one of us that we matter.” After hearing such touching words, Brandon felt compelled to visit Mott Hall Bridges Academy and see Ms. Lopez in action.

Mott Hall Bridges Academy is located in Brownsville, Brooklyn, a not so good part of town to say the least. Brownsville is the neighborhood with highest crime rate in New York. “This is a neighborhood that doesn’t necessarily expect much from our children, so at Mott Hall Bridges Academy we set our expectations very high.” says Lopez. “She wants her students to be able to see beyond their neighborhood and know how far they can go.” says Brandon. While visiting with the school, Brandon, Ms. Lopez, and her assistant Ms. Achu came up with the idea to create a fund that will provide each incoming 6th grade class a chance to travel to and tour Harvard University. “I want every child who enters my school to know that they can go anywhere, and that they will belong,” says Lopez.

Over the next week, more than a million dollars was raised. And it didn’t stop there. Ellen Degeneres heard about Vidal and invited him to her talk show. She then gave Ms. Lopez and MHBA $100,000 worth of materials such as computers, laptops, tablets, and other electronic devices. Even President Obama heard about Vidal and arranged to meet with him. Since then, $1,417,984 has been raised and the school is planning their first trip to Harvard.