From the Nominator
For their senior capstone project, two Villanova University engineering students set out to make a difference for people living with spastic cerebral palsy—including a young alumnus well-known for his impact on campus. The engineering students aimed to develop an easy-to-use system in which the alumnus and two current students could use an iPad to speak, text, email, and communicate more independently—with the goal to apply this research toward a broader solution for others with spastic cerebral palsy.
The student research team planned to test the system through in-person sessions, but the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing protocols made these interactions impossible. While the team adjusted their strategy, the new approach required investment in additional iPad devices and software for testing the system remotely, exceeding the budget that the College of Engineering could provide.
Upon learning of this project, the Annual Giving team worked with the College of Engineering to launch a crowdfunding campaign to address these unforeseen project costs. With the help of campus partners, social media influencers, and challenge gifts, the campaign not only reached its $10,000 goal, but surpassed $40,000 in support in just one month—providing resources that met the immediate project needs and making it possible to build upon the project’s momentum through a new entrepreneurship course and additional teams of senior engineering students. Thus, the success of this campaign will continue to fuel the long-term growth of the project, working toward the goal of a broader solution: transforming communication for all.
From the Judges
We liked the creativity and originality. This is a great illustration of the power of collective and community giving through meaningful, strategic crowdfunding. With a compelling story and narrative to match tangible outcomes, this initiative was well-executed and had a collaborative approach that resonates across all constituencies.