Motivation

Disney Dreamer Alumni Creates a Crowd Funding Site for College Student Tuition

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“Why can’t there be something like Kick-starter for school tuition?”

This was the sentence that Chisa Egbelu, heard from his college best friend, which was the catalyst for Pedul. His friend attempted to leave Rutgers University to pursue his dream by getting a degree in music at the school of his dreams. He soon discovered it was too expensive and ended up back at Rutgers the very next semester. 

When his friend said, “Why can’t there be something like Kick-starter for school tuition?” it sparked something inside of him. He partnered with Disney Dreamers Alumni Kayla Jackson and the two quickly became a power team.

Earlier this year, I was given an opportunity to attend the Disney Dreamers Academy and was blown away by Kayla Jackson and everything she has accomplished in such a short amount of time. Her recent venture, Pedul is changing the way students are paying for college and could be right on time for you and/or your college student. 

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I was able to interview Kayla about Pedul, check out her responses below:

What is Pedul?

A for-profit online crowd funding platform where students can raise money to help finance their higher education expenses. We help students optimize their campaigns, and also protect patronage like no other crowd funding sight.

We transfer funds directly from student campaigns to their university in the form of a 3rd party scholarship. We have two caveats that other crowd-funding sights aren’t doing

  1. Institution pages. For example: Rutgers university can have a page on the Pedul platform, and after 3 days, accumulated tax deductible donations are evenly distributed to students who are featured on that page, who have proven they go to Rutgers and they are financially in need. 
  2. Corporate sponsorship program. Example: Companies like Google can sponsor minority software engineers and not only are they matching every dollar that comes into their campaign, they are giving students access to senior leadership, training modules, workshops, and internship opportunities.

Pedul is also partnered with a few different Scholarship Foundations which can funnel their endowments (scholarships) directly to qualified students on the website. You basically get free money just for having a profile. 

How did it get started?

After officially starting the business, we were approached by a venture capitalist IDT, based out of Newark, NJ. We went through their incubator program for 3 months over the summer. We’ve partnered with about 16 schools before our launch in April 2017, 2 principalities, many youth organizations, 1st Tee, National Black Leaders of Tomorrow program.

Did you pitch the companies you work with?

One of the reasons Chisa brought me on was, because he knew I was an ambassador for many youth organizations. I’ve been playing golf since I was 3 years old and supposed to go division 1. That was what my dad had set me up for, until I decided my senior year I wasn’t going to let him live vicariously through me.

I was an ambassador for the 1st Tee and was invited out to speak to many chairman including President Bush. So, I was able to get a partnership through that collaboration. I was also the CEO and Chief of staff for the National Black NBA Leaders of tomorrow chapter for my sophomore, junior and senior year of high school. 

Any organizations outside of my connections were basically cold emails, cold tweets. I have mastered cold emails! It’s really about expressing the mission. Whenever I reach out to someone, I never say Pedul is…  

I express with the reason why I use Pedul as my platform. I always start with my WHY. The reason why I even do Pedul is to create access and opportunities. Especially for young people of color, many of whom don’t have access to online platforms.

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Do you have to be in high school to apply?

Right now the Pedul is open to high school seniors and current college seniors and grad students.

The end goal is to replace 529 plans. The challenge is there is a tax incentive for 529’s. There is no tax incentive for Pedul. We are trying to figure out if we can work with companies like Acorn and do micro investments. Then the investment grows with the stock market.  

What was the immediate benefit when you left Disney Dreamers? 

The most impactful thing that happened to me was, I found out my passion was impacting young lives. I thought I was on the path for journalism, but that mindset shifted at DDA. I learned that I didn’t need journalism to feel fulfilled. I didn’t have to be tied to a title. My favorite mantra is, “Don’t put me in a box”. I don’t like to stay in a lane. Vanessa Sikes, who ran the journalism program, told me, “Never allow anyone to diminish or dismiss your dreams.” That has stuck with me throughout my entire career.

Being a young black woman, I’ve had to prove myself many times. Usually when I step into a room, I am surround by older white men. I have to prove I bring value to the conversation. 

For Pedul, Education is the center of everything we do. It bridges the gap between purpose and life. Visit www.pedul.com to get more information and sign up.

We want to keep kids in school.
Follow @WeArePedul on all social media platforms

Disney Dreamer Academy Applications 2018 are open!

This is just one of the many great Disney Dreamers Alumni doing great things in the community. It’s just another reason why this program is so important for motivating teens to follow their dreams.

High school students nationwide can now apply at DisneyDreamersAcademy.com to be among 100 selected to participate in the 2018 DisneyDreamers Academy with Steve Harvey and ESSENCE, the innovative, outside-the-classroom, mentoring program that takes place in March at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.

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Applications are open to U.S. high school students, ages 13 to 19, through Oct. 31, 2017. A distinguished panel of leaders will evaluate the applications, and selected participants will be announced in early 2018.

 

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