Humans of New York Proves Photos Can Make a Difference

This is how one photo raised $1 million to send kids to Harvard.

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The ridiculously popular Tumblr blog Humans of New York is on a mission.

When the site launched back in 2010, creator Brandon Stanton was driven to capture an exhaustive photographic catalog of his city’s inhabitants. Today, the blog and its affiliated social media accounts have attracted millions of likes and followers—not to mention a bestselling book.

Now Stanton is leveraging his blog's enormous popularity—striking, even by 2015 standards—to help those in need. And it's starting with a single photograph he took earlier this month.

While searching for subjects in the neighborhood of Brownsville, Brooklyn—one of the most crime-ridden in the city—Stanton came across 13-year-old Vidal Chastanet.

Stanton snapped a photo of the boy and transcribed a brief conversation he had with him. That conversation, in which Vidal expressed the admiration he had for his school’s principal, quickly went viral.

Nadia Lopez, Vidal Chastanet's principal at Mott Hall Bridges Academy

Soon after, Stanton was inspired to visit the boy’s school, Mott Hall Bridges Academy, and introduce himself to Principal Nadia Lopez. And as it turned out, Lopez was in the midst of a fundraising campaign to send her students on a trip to Harvard.

"It doesn't matter about the past and present; you must focus on the future. Your future is what you set it to be in your mind." –Vidal Chastanet

Stanton threw his weight behind the cause, setting up an Indiegogo funding campaign and encouraging HONY fans to donate. In just one week, his readers contributed a whopping $1 million—enough money for the school to send its sixth-grade class to Harvard every year for the next 10 years.

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"If you're from Brownsville, they don't expect you to be much in life," Chastanet told Ellen DeGeneres' blog. "They don't expect you to have a quality education; they don't expect you to know what you're doing. They expect you to fail. They don't want you to become anything that you want to be... I realized that if I want to be anything in life, as Ms. Lopez said, I have to learn how to be better. It doesn't matter about the past and present; you must focus on the future. Your future is what you set it to be in your mind."

Onions, man. Onions.

Visit’s the project’s Indiegogo page if you’d like to donate. There are just 10 days left!

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