Four groups on campus are now in the process of making dreams a reality after earning the opportunity to participate in FUEL Furman, an alumni crowdsource funding platform organized by the Office of Annual Giving and the Student Government Association.
Through last November, the program accepted online applications allowing students to broadcast project ideas and receive financial assistance from alumni in order to bring them to life. The project also aims to have alumni see the tangible benefits provided by their contributions, and will make them consider making pledges towards more university initiatives to inspire creativity and create student leaders on campus.
The Belltower Boys, the men’s a cappella group at Furman, won one of the finalist spots for the 2015 competition. With the funding, the group envisions taking “Recruitment Tours” around the country to raise interest in Furman and create unique performance opportunities for the group. The group has been invited to participate in NBC’s “The Sing Off,” and the funding would allow for the group to cover costs for the trip.
The student music director of the Belltower Boys, Drew Whitlow, says that the group has been looking for an opportunity like this to open up.
“It’s an incredible opportunity for the group. For years we have dreamed of going on tour and recording, and now FUEL for Furman is making that a reality. We could not be more thankful,” Whitlow said.
The Makery Project, a collaboration between the Furman Art Department, Furman Creative Collaborative, and The Maker’s Club, received the opportunity to furnish their workspace, provide constructive programs, and cover operating costs. Aiming to burst the “Furman Bubble” by bridging campus and community, The Makery is a space where students and locals unite to share ideas, plan events, connect theory with practice, and build relationships.
Ben Riddle, a driving force for the project, believes that by extending this invitation, Furman has become part of a larger effort in Greenville.
“By partnering with FUEL Furman to crowd fund this project, we have the opportunity to partner with alumni, engage local residents and work with people from all walks of life to launch something that moves our community and our university forward,” Riddle said.
Save Our Bikes, a project sponsored by the Furman Physics Department and the Shi Center for Sustainability, also became a finalist. The initiative was organized to provide funding for the construction of covered bike shelters around campus. The creators, many of whom are physics majors, see this as an opportunity to address student concerns while giving them hands on experience in engineering and construction.
Sidney Dills, one of the creators of the initiative, echoes this sentiment and says that this is a unique occasion for the physics students involved.
“It is not every day that physics majors get to turn what they learn in the classroom into a real life design and construction project,” Dills said.
Finally, the Paladin Network, Furman’s student-run news network, gained the opportunity to improve their on-campus status. While the Paladin Network has a budget from SGA, they feel that additional funds would help them expand inventory to improve production quality and recruit more efficiently.
Pearson Fowler, a member of the station, says that media organizations on campus are “undervalued and underpopulated,” and being nominated is an honor.
“The face that we were selected by a jury of our peers makes that even more exciting,” Fowler said. “It is the student body saying, ‘Hey, we like what you’re doing, and want it to continue to get bigger and better.’”
The FUEL Furman platform will be open for funding through April 1.