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The School that Raised $1 Million Through Humans of New York

The School that Raised $1 Million Through Humans of New York

The School that Raised $1 Million Through Humans of New York

It's not every day a school raises 1 million dollars, let alone through Humans of New York, the immensely popular Facebook photo page of photographer Brandon Stanton. But that's just what happened to Mott Hill Bridges Academy, a STEAM-focused middle school in Brownsville, one of the poorest and most crime-ridden neighborhoods in Brooklyn, New York.

In late January, Stanton on Humans of New York posted the story of Vidal Chastanet. Chastanet, who is 13 years old, was asked who was the most influential person in his life. Here was his answer.

“My principal, Ms. Lopez.”

“How has she influenced you?”

“When we get in trouble, she doesn’t suspend us. She calls us to her office and explains to us how society was built down around us. And she tells us that each time somebody fails out of school, a new jail cell gets built. And one time she made every student stand up, one at a time, and she told each one of us that we matter.”

After featuring Chastanet on his page, Stanton decided to find out more about the inspirational principal of Mott Hill Bridges Academy, Nadia Lopez.

He arranged a meeting with Lopez, where he found out that she was raising money to take her students to visit Harvard. Stanton then created a fundraising page to help the academy out, setting a $100,000 goal. However, in less than five days, a little more than $1 million was raised. Stanton thanked his followers, while Lopez was shocked. Up until being featured in Humans of New York, the work she had been doing was relatively unknown. She said, "Up until this moment, I didn't know I mattered. I didn't know that anybody cared what I was doing."

Lopez founded Mott Hill Bridges Academy in 2010. She had originally planned to become a nurse, but later changed her mind and decided to become an educator. She wanted to give opportunities to the children of Brownsville, where limited access to quality education lead many to be discouraged and have a limited imagination. As Chastanet himself said, "If you're from Brownsville, they don't expect you to be much in life. 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."

However, at Mott Hill Bridges Academy, Ms. Lopez has high expectations. She calls her students "scholars", and they are required to wear purple and black, the color of loyalty. She considers everyone at the school a life-long learner, and encourages students personally. "I really, really want my scholars to win," she said. "Despite us being in a neighborhood that is tough, I want them to know that they can survive."


Noorhan is a high school sophomore. She is the founding president of her school's Girl Up chapter, and is a member of several other clubs as well. She is passionate about female empowerment/education and STEM/science research. When she's not busy with school, she enjoys writing, photography, outfit-planning, and traveling with her family.


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