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NKU partners with crowdsourcing platform to raise funding for campus programs

For immediate release…
Monday – April 13, 2015

HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. – Northern Kentucky University unveiled this morning “Impact NKU,” a new crowdfunding platform to help raise private funds for campus programs and services. The first cohort of programs includes the Vocal Corps and String Project, the annual Norse Leadership Society Retreat, and the NKU Cyber Defense Team.

“With the growing popularity of programs such as Kickstarter, we see this as an excellent opportunity to directly connect our programs to those in a position to make a lasting impact on our students and our campus,” said Julie Dials, assistant vice president for university development and alumni relations. “By making a financial contribution in support of these and future programs, donors will have the chance to see first-hand how their investment benefits our students and our community.”

Take Emily Stephens, for example. For two years, the 11-year-old begged her parents for a violin and music lessons.

It cost too much money, they told her. “So I did the best I could to get as close to music as possible,” Emily said, “but it only made me want it more.”

That is when the Stephens family discovered the NKU String Project. Founded in 2012, the program offers quality string-music instruction at an affordable price. Classes are taught and overseen by a director, with three master teachers and six teaching assistants.

“My mom told me I could take violin lessons because the NKU String Project was affordable, but the instrument rental would have to be my birthday and Christmas gift!” Emily said. “I said, ‘Great!’ I have been at NKU String Project for three years now and I love it.”

With Impact NKU, programs like the String Project will be able to serve even more people. The university has partnered with Scalefunder, which promotes itself as crowdfunding for universities and non-profits. This new technology will benefit programs campus-wide by appealing to different types of donors. These short, 30- to 45-day campaigns offer current and prospective donors a new avenue to provide support directly to the NKU programs that are most meaningful to them.

Amy Gillingham, director of the program, said the NKU Strings Project embodies the university’s commitment to community engagement.

“These programs serve two crucial purposes: educating community youth at incredibly low tuition, and training NKU undergraduate students to be future music educators of the highest quality,” she said. “Who wouldn't want to support programs that empower youth and inspire a new generation of teachers?”

Tuition makes up for only 40 percent of the funds to actually operate, Ms. Gillingham said, so grants and fundraising are extremely important. A donation of $5 will cover one student for one class.

For kids like Emily, that means opportunity.

To learn more about the NKU Vocal Corps and String Project, Norse Leadership Society Retreat, and the NKU Cyber Defense Team and to donate to one of these programs, visit

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