Schoolyard has opened the gates to its platform that lets students raise money directly from alumni.
Traditionally when alumni want to support students at their alma mater, they donate to the university, which then distributes the money. This puts a large institutional middleman between the alumni and the students. Schoolyard’s vision is to provide an off-campus, online opportunity for alumni to fund students, groups, and projects they believe in. This can benefit students who are unable to procure university funding, as well as alumni who want to have more control and engage on a deeper level with their chosen causes.
On Schoolyard, students can create or join groups and create profiles for their cause, true to crowdfunding website form. They can then raise awareness for their organization, track membership, collect dues, plan events, communicate with the network, and raise money, as well as interact with interested alumni who may be able to offer guidance and other non-financial resources.
“Donating and fundraising for universities and students is broken right now,” said CEO Dan Gailey. “The real disconnect is because the schools don’t really understand how alumni would like to donate, and alumni don’t have an easy way to give back to the things that mattered most to them. We want to enable people to give to projects that resonate with their own beliefs and make it possible to see how their influence is making a positive impact.”
Gailey was first inspired to create Schoolyard while leading a robotics group in college. His team attended a competition where they were overshadowed by better funded groups, and after the competition, he heard from alumni that wanted to support their project, but didn’t know how. After working for a few other startups, he decided to branch out and build Schoolyard.
Since beginning in May, Schoolyard has worked with 300 beta users across 32 universities, including Stanford, Cornell, CMU, and The University of Texas. The platform is available to students, alumni, and universities, with the ultimate goal of changing the way people donate to their alma maters.
Schoolyard is based in San Francisco.