In 2010, photographer Brandon Stanton embarked on a mission to capture average New Yorkers on the street through images and anecdotes. The portraits turned into a blog, Humans of New York, and a Facebook page, which has some 12 million fans.
But one portrait has turned into a viral fundraising sensation. Last week, Stanton took a photograph of Vidal, a Brooklyn boy who talked about the challenges of living in the crime-ridden neighborhood of Brownsville:
But Vidal also expressed optimism, especially when he shared his admiration for his school's principal, Nadia Lopez.
"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," he said.
The post received more than one million likes - and now it has generated more than $1 million in money for Vidal's school, Mott Hall Bridges Academy. Readers worldwide immediately expressed interest in supporting the student, his influential principal and the school.
After sitting down with Lopez and another school staffer, Stanton launched an online fundraiser that would "provide each incoming 6th grade class at Mott Hall Bridges Academy a chance to get out of their neighborhood and visit a new place. And that place is Harvard University."
By Thursday afternoon, the campaign had raised more than $1 million.
Stanton said that all the cash raised beyond $700,000 would be used to set up a scholarship fund for the graduates of Mott Hall Bridges Academy.
"It will be called The Vidal Scholarship Fund," Stanton writes. "And the first recipient will be Vidal himself."