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100% Project: Crowdfunding Towards a Better Educational Experience

The 100% Project Team

Empowering educators and increasing the quality of learning around Malaysia  – that’s what one Malaysian social enterprise aims to do. By adopting the crowdfunding technique and focusing on the field of education, 100% Project provides teachers around the country with the opportunity to secure much needed funding for classroom projects to improve the quality of education in Malaysian schools.

Crowdfunding platforms have risen to the forefront of investment in recent years with platforms like Kickstarter and Indegogo providing creators and entrepreneurs an accessible alternative to raising capital for passion projects. Many amazing projects have already been made a reality thanks to crowdfunding including the kind-to-bees honey on tap contraption called Flow Hive, static-charged post-it notes, watches, board games, films, and much more.

The great thing about the concept of crowdfunding is that it’s not limited to just funding products. It’s also useful for raising money for a good cause. One annual fundraiser done via crowdfunding platform Indiegogo is the Project For Awesome by internet’s favourite bothers, John and Hank Green, who host an annual 48 hours non-stop live stream on Youtube with their friends, family, and internet community to raise money for various charitable organisations. Last year, the event raised over USD2 million with about USD800,000 donated by the public via Indiegogo in exchange for perks like digital downloads and hand-crafted items.

It’s clear that the power of crowdfunding platforms is truly remarkable owing to the generosity of people in sharing their resources. Armed with that knowledge and hope in the human race, 100% Project was founded by a group of passionate individuals who wanted to address the disconnection between teachers who needed financial aid for their classroom projects and people who are willing to help out.

Amelia Tan, one of the co-founder of 100% Project, cited her experience with Teach For Malaysia as the inspiration for this social enterprise. “When I worked for Teach For Malaysia, I realised a lot of our Fellows (teachers) had great ideas for their classes but often struggled to raise funds for their projects. Some wouldn’t know where to begin and some would be too busy with day to day school tasks that they didn’t have the time. I was working as a fundraiser and would constantly meet people who expressed interested in directly contributing to schools.”

When asked about the rising popularity of crowdfunding platforms and social enterprises, especially in Malaysia, Amelia says, “more and more people are realising that the problems of the world can be solved if people stepped up instead of waiting on someone to do something. I’m a millennial and a lot of my peers in social enterprises are as well, and I think we are a generation that is instinctively purpose driven and idealistic because most of us grew up with privilege and I think it hurts us to see that there are others still struggling and the world deteriorating.”

How it works?

New chairs and desks at SK Assunta

100% Project functions the same way as other crowdfunding platforms. The difference here is that projects listed are education related and are vetted beforehand by the team who look for teachers who are able to clearly define the problem in their classroom or school and are able to confidently justify why they think their project is the appropriate solution. In other words, 100% Project looks for passionate teachers who need funds to improve their classrooms, organise field trips, or implement innovative teaching ideas. The projects that make it through the vetting process are then posted online and the public is invited to pitch in.

For every contribution made to a project, the contributor will receive a specific perk which varies depending on the amount they contributed. For example, a contribution of RM25 on a project might get you a thank you note from the teacher while a contribution of RM100 on the same project might get you a thank you note from the teacher and one photograph of the students you’ve helped. Once a project has met its funding goal, the money will be channelled by 100% Project to the teacher who headed the project. However, if a project does not meet its funding goal within the specified timeline, the money is then refunded to each individual contributor.

On a brighter note, apart from individual contributions made on the crowdfunding platform, 100% Projects have also received support from corporate organisations who have adopted classroom projects or provided perks for contributors. Many companies have reached out to them for advice on how they can work with schools as they’re interested but don’t know how to get started or which schools need their help.

Promoted

As magical as sounds, however, it wasn’t all smooth sailing from the get-go. According to Amelia, when 100% Project first launched, crowdfunding was still unfamiliar in Malaysia. Even many teachers hadn’t heard of it before. So 100% Project had to first run workshops to introduce the concept to educators. The team also made sure that the entire process remained transparent in an effort to build trust in the community. In fact, on the website, everyone can access their transparency document which is a record of every disbursement made by the social enterprise so the public can see where their contributions are going.

Meaningful change, one project at a time

Cikgu Nik in with his students in the newly refurbished classroom

To date, 100% Project has raised over RM700,000 for classrooms across Malaysia, funding various projects and ideas that touch upon a number of different learning areas including language, technology, arts, and social sciences. Some of the projects that have been funded include buying new arrows for the archery club at SMK Pandamaran Jaya, paying for students from SMK Gunasand to attend the Young Innovators Challenge 2017, and restoring school facilities after a fire breakout at SMK St. Theresa.

One of Amelia’s favourite success stories was of a Cikgu Nik who was assigned to a primary school on the remote island, Pulau Bum Bum off the coast of Sabah. On his first day, he found his classroom to be absolutely empty, devoid of chairs, tables, and teaching aids.

“My heart broke when I saw my students who were eager to learn but their learning marred by the limitations of their “classroom”. I resolved to change that, for the sake of these students who yearn for a better education.”, he said.

With the help of some friends, Cikgu Nik repainted the classroom using his own money, but he needed much more funds to bring the classroom to the 21st century. With the help of generous contributors from all over Malaysia, 100% Project helped Cikgu Nik raise over RM8,000 to transform the classroom into a conducive learning space, buying not only tables and chairs but various teaching aids and equipment as well.

Of course, situations vary across the country. The needs of the students at Pulau Bum Bum are very different to that of students in other schools. Each school poses a unique set of challenges to educators, which is why teachers are really the best people to decide how to address the needs of their students. This specificity is one of the reasons 100% Project has been so successful. They provide a platform for teachers to be able to raise the resources necessary to do their job well and address the specific needs of their students.

If you’re like to help increase the quality of education in Malaysia, you can head on over to 100percentproject.org to help various classroom projects meet their funding goal. If you’re interested in working with 100% Project on a corporate partnership basis, visit about.100percentproject.org.

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