Small gifts, big impact: Crowdfunding platform Launch KU builds buzz for giving opportunities

In the past year, a new option for supporting KU programs, faculty and students has taken off. Launch KU, an online crowdfunding platform, has broadened opportunities for alumni and friends to make a big impact no matter the size of their gift. Campaigns have benefitted the College in multiple ways, including support for initiatives such as study abroad, scholarships and bringing a T. rex back to campus.

Mary Klayder Study Abroad Opportunity Award

Students have traveled abroad with Professor Mary Klayder to Great Britain and Costa Rica.

Over the past 27 years, more than 1,000 students have traveled with Mary Klayder to Great Britain and Costa Rica. Klayder, a lecturer in the Department of English and a faculty fellow in the University Honors Program, offers the trips between semesters or over spring break to offer a shorter-term study abroad experience during students’ short time at KU.

The campaign raised $33,555, exceeding its goal by more than $6,500.

“I want to thank everyone who contributed to the fund to help Honors students study abroad. These programs help students see and understand the larger world, to see us as part of a bigger picture. And funding expands these opportunities,” Klayder said.

School of Public Affairs & Administration Scholarship Fund

Godfrey Riddle was able to complete his master’s in public administration at KU thanks to scholarship support.

The School of Public Affairs & Administration has been ranked #1 in the nation for city management and urban policy since 1998. While its reputation attracts a diverse and talented pool of recruits, the school’s scholarship funding is limited. Scholarship recipients generally receive less than 17% of the cost for students to join the Edwin O. Stene Master of Public Administration Program.

The school reached out to its alumni network, seeking their assistance to raise $10,000 to bolster MPA scholarship funds. The campaign exceeded its goal by $325.

Godfrey Riddle, a graduate of the class of 2015 and scholarship recipient, shared his story during the campaign as an example of the difference scholarship funds can make.

“I come from a really poor background, so college was a financial stretch for my family. A master’s at the #1 program seemed out of the question, and my acceptance at KU was bittersweet… until I realized that I had received a scholarship,” Riddle said.

Bring the KU T. Rex Home

With campaign support, the KU T. Rex fossil collection now includes 25% of the dinosaur’s skull, 60% of the hips and 45% of the legs.

A T. rex fossil has been making its way to KU from a dig site in Montana, bit by bit. With a goal to add to the fossil collection, the KU Natural History Museum and Biodiversity Institute launched a crowdfunding campaign to support a four-week expedition over the summer. Nearly 90 donors helped push the total to $26,170, nearly $10,000 over the campaign goal. With campaign support, the fossil collection now includes 25% of the skull, 60% of the hips and 45% of the legs.

David Burnham, a KU paleontologist and courtesy professor in geology, led an ever-changing roster of volunteers, students and staff on the expedition in July. Among those students was Kyle Atkins-Weltman, a biology student who works in the herpetology department at the Biodiversity Institute. His parents, John Weltman and Cliff Atkins of Boston, contributed to the campaign as a result of their son’s enthusiasm for the project.

“When you have children, you want to invest in the things that excite them,” Weltman said. “We also believe strongly in supporting education. And whatever knowledge one gains from the excavation—we wanted to help that on a broader scale.”

New campaigns launch frequently. Visit to view current campaigns.

Originally published in the KU Collegian, spring 2017