When a picture raises $1million and paints a new future for New York students

It used to be a case of a picture painting a thousand words, but a New York photographer’s photo has changed all that - his one shot seems set to raise almost $1 million for a worthy cause.

Brandon Stanton has become famous as the man behind ‘Humans Of New York,’ where he takes a snap of people in the city’s street while asking them simple questions about themselves. When he took a photo of a 13-year-old schoolboy from Brownsville, Brooklyn, known as a safe zone in a crime-plagued neighbourhood, he never could have imagined the impact it would have.

Humans of New York

Humans of New York Image by Tony Alter / CC BY 2.0

The inspirational post pictured Vidal Chastanet in a housing project in Brownsville. The shot went viral and it helped the photographer to raise almost $1 million for Mott Hall Bridges Academy school where the boy Vidal is in sixth grade.

Having asked the boy a number of questions, New Business reports that Stanton felt the need to visit the boy’s school. The campaign took off when the picture appeared on ‘Humans of New York’. The campaign’s rapid success saw it raise an initial $100,000 in less than an hour. That, CNN reports, shows on one hand the influence the ‘Humans of New York’ brand. It now has 12 million Facebook followers, but it also shows the city’s ability to respond to a feel-good story.

Brandon’s then went to meet principal Nadia Lopez who already had begun fund-raising to send her pupils on a trip to Harvard University. She wanted them to aspire to attend one of the country’s stellar third-level institutions.

Serendipitously, Brandon arrived to join the cause, and his input has seen people respond by donating over $700,000 for the trip in only four days. It means that the principal’s prayer’s have been answered ten-fold as her sixth-graders will now be able to make the journey to the famed University for the coming decade.

Vidal Chastanet accepts that when you are from Brownsville, “they don't expect you to be much in life”. He revealed that Ms Lopez said that if he wanted to become anything in life, he had to “learn to be better”. The scholarship fund is to named for Vidal, whose picture and street talk with Brandon Stanton started it all.

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