Nonprofit wins $10,000 grant from CHASE Bank
By Meagan McGone
BREVARD - With less than a week until the end of the competition, Promise in Brevard needed a helping hand to win a substantial grant from CHASE Bank.
But it was 20 helping hands - to be exact - that earned the nonprofit a check for $10,000, with only a few hours to spare.
This large chunk of funding for Promise in Brevard, which is a nonprofit organization dedicated to building a unique housing development for individuals with special needs, will play a huge role in making the Promise dream become a reality.
Betsy Farmer, who co-founded Promise alongside her son, Luke, 26, turned to a class at Florida Tech to help gain the votes, which were counted via Facebook, that the nonprofit would need in order to place in the top 196 charities in CHASE's Community Giving contest.
"She came in to talk to our class, and we were sold on the charity," said Rob Himler, a junior at Florida Tech, who was in the Principles of Marketing class that Ms. Farmer spoke to. "We figured we could all help tremendously because we're all college students, so we have Facebook accounts, and we're connected to people from all around the world and the United States."
The class of 20 students had four days to rack up as many votes for Promise in Brevard as it could. The students set up voting stations around campus, where peers could log in to Facebook and place their votes for the charity.
"We had seven contact points for students on campus, where we had laptops and giveaways to encourage students to vote for Promise," said Dr. Andrew Cudmore, the professor of the marketing class. "We had Promise pictures on tripods, a Facebook page, fliers and wore bright neon T-shirts to gain attention. Students and friends also got some viral marketing going on in 35 universities across 13 countries."
Dr. Cudmore said that before his students became involved, the nonprofit had 300 votes. But by the end of the two-week contest, Promise in Brevard earned a total of 1,357 votes.
Ms. Farmer said winning the contest was quite an accomplishment, as Promise in Brevard hit a bit of a hiatus in the beginning.
"Our profile was a week late getting posted," she said. "Due to a glitch in CHASE's website, many charities didn't have their profiles posted until a week into the competition, and ours was one of them. So we were a week late getting into the game, and it was a miracle that we pulled it off."
After seeing the results, she said that every vote really did count, as the competition turned out to be closer than they could have anticipated.
"We only won by 20 votes!" Ms. Farmer said. "It was very close."
She expressed eternal gratitude to everyone who voted for Promise, especially the class at Florida Tech for diving into the project so whole-heartedly.
"They were just cranking out the votes," she said. "They were spreading the news to any students who would walk by. What began as a class project turned into this amazing public awareness campaign, and a lot of students' hearts were changed. They learned a lot about what we were doing. It was truly a labor of love."
Mr. Himler agreed, and said that through the whole process, he learned valuable lessons about Promise in Brevard's mission to build a place where individuals with special needs can live out their lives surrounded by freedom and opportunity.
"I learned just how amazing Promise is," he said. "Betsy and Luke are incredible people. It was an honor to help them in their dreams for Promise. It was also neat to work with people from all over the world, and to come together as one to help Promise. The diversity of FIT and how we're able to reach out was pretty amazing."
Mr. Himler said that as a whole, the project was unique because it taught him a life lesson.
"I felt like I won the $10,000," he said. "It felt good to do something good in the world."
For more information about Promise in Brevard, visit www.promiseinbrevard.com.
Contact Betsy Farmer at (321) 536-7062.