Faces in the crowd: WNC crowdfunding initiatives

Photo from the artists' campaign page

Crowdfunding platforms make it possible for individuals and organizations of any size to harness social networks and raise start-up capital for projects that might otherwise fail due to lack of funding. Each week, Xpress highlights notable Western North Carolina crowdsourcing initiatives that may inspire readers to become new faces in the crowd.

Women Who Made Music History concert series

For about a decade, local singers Paula Hanke and Peggy Ratusz have performed live tributes to their iconic predecessors like Etta James and Bonnie Raitt. So, their latest idea — a multi-artist tribute series backed by a professional marketing campaign and strategically performed in front of music industry professionals — was a natural next step. They’ve already booked a Linda Ronstadt-inspired concert at the Tryon Performing Arts Center for Sunday, Aug. 13.

The two say they created the Women Who Made Music History concept “because we are passionate about singing and performing, and we are dedicated to sharing this meaningful project as our personal and primary musical commitment as we move forward. … We see the importance in continuing to bring women to the forefront, as their greatness is often muted or dimmed. We also feel a sense of responsibility to share with our young and upcoming sisters about the courageous souls who have preceded them — and to empower and encourage them and bring more love and connection to this planet in our own way.” The duo aims to raise $20,000 to pay for a variety of expenses, including studio recordings, promotional videos, song licensing, photo shoots, industry conference fees, lawyer and accountant fees, graphic design, advertisements, costumes, accommodations, merchandise and more.

Eliminating shame and debt from school lunch

“What started out as a desire to pay other children’s lunch debt at my son’s school — so no child would be excluded from field day — has morphed into an effort to assist all 44 Buncombe County schools,” Karina Barnes writes on her crowdfunding page. The concerned parent clarifies that guardians who are able to pay their kids’ lunch balance are still encouraged to do so, but her campaign exists to help those who simply do not have the funds. Upon researching the issue, Barnes found that schools in other states have addressed the same problem. For example, New Mexico recently passed a law barring tactics that shame children to coerce payment by their parents. “We are not trying to demonize any individual administrators, but [we are] outraged at the tactic being used to collect student debt by some Buncombe County schools,” she concludes. Barnes aims to raise $10,000 to repay lunch debts countywide. Concerned individuals can also contact her about getting further involved in the issue.

Image from Barnes' campaign page
Image from Barnes’ campaign page

Erwin High School students compete in national race

A group of female students from Erwin High School has qualified to participate in the 27th New Balance Nationals Outdoor. The event takes place in Greensboro in mid-June, drawing thousands of athletes from across the country to compete in track and field disciplines. “These girls have worked so hard for this,” writes the group’s leader Melissa Borum. “Even though they qualified as a team with the school, the school can’t help them get there because nationals is not considered a school-sponsored event.” With Borum’s crowdfunding assistance, the team has already surpassed its $1,000 goal to pay for registration, USA Track & Field memberships, hotel stays and other travel expenses.

Image from the team's crowdfunding page
Image from the team’s crowdfunding page

Send your crowdsourcing campaign news to kmcreynolds@mountainx.com. A limited number of campaigns will be highlighted each week, at Xpress’ discretion. Campaigns must be locally based and should represent a current project with an achievable goal. Conditions are subject to change. Read about more Western North Carolina projects here.


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We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

About Kat McReynolds
Kat studied entrepreneurship and music business at the University of Miami and earned her MBA at Appalachian State University. Follow me @katmAVL

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6 thoughts on “Faces in the crowd: WNC crowdfunding initiatives

  1. James L. Smith

    Boys excluded, huh? A public school in another state sponsored a science fair FOR GIRLS ONLY. Boys were excluded. Have any of you ever read the 14th Amendment’s Equal Rights Clause, which applies to all the states and their subdivisions?

    If you’re gonna make MountainX into a women’s mag, just say so. Then men can studiously avoid it like they did VERVE. What happened to VERVE, though? It went belly up and choked to death.

  2. Dani

    That school lunch looks absolutely dismal. Why are there no greens on that plate? I would be interested in seeing a photo of the Swannanoa Correctional Center’s lunch as comparison- I can’t imagine it looking any worse than that. Maybe Buncombe County schools should take a page from the prison’s book and incorporate a garden program.

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