Crowdsourcing platform launches seven new projects with student groups

Leo Ji, Reporter

Catalyzer, an online fundraising initiative for Northwestern, added seven new fundraising campaigns for student groups to help them expand both at home and abroad.

The Kickstarter-esque platform is powered by ScaleFunder, a crowdfunding platform for universities and nonprofits. Catalyzer started with four projects in the spring.

Funds donated to student groups through Catalyzer count toward the We Will campaign, the University’s $3.75 billion fundraising effort.

All donations made through Catalyzer are tax deductible, according to the We Will website. The student groups receive 100 percent of the contributions regardless of whether they meet their fundraising goals.

One group, NU’s chapter of Engineers Without Borders, will use the funds to expand its efforts in Kimuka, a community outside of Nairobi, Kenya. In its first two trips to Kenya during the spring of 2014 and spring of 2015, the student group designed and constructed a tapstand, a device that delivers water.

“They are so passionate about helping these folks,” McCormick Prof. Russ Joseph, the group’s faculty adviser, told The Daily in an email. “The Catalyzer project will make it possible to continue those efforts by sending our students to Kenya.”

The group hopes to use Catalyzer funds to return to Kimuka. The students want to see if they can design a system to move clean water from the tapstand to houses in the community.

“The application process I don’t remember being too difficult,” said McCormick junior Sam Cohen, the group’s president. “It was pretty straightforward and streamlined and easy.”

EPIC, a group of student entrepreneurs, asked for $3,500 to create a library of books and other resources, said McCormick senior Ahren Alexander, co-director of the EPIC Launch Program.

Another group, the Treblemakers, will use Catalyzer funds to go on an international tour that will hit three cities in Asia. The a capella group has already reached its initial $8,000 fundraising goal and has since increased its goal to $12,000 to help raise money for new members who joined since the campaign began.

Weinberg and Bienen senior Kate Lee, the group’s music director, said the group wants to apply for Catalyzer funds again.

“Any chance we get, we’ll apply to be a part of Catalyzer again,” Lee said. “It’s just a really great platform, and it’s set up for success. I would recommend it to everybody.”

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