The rationale behind the Humans of New York (HONY) page was simple enough, to photograph and document some of the stories of the people who lived in the city. Since 2010, it has brought together the people of a city that seemed outwardly unfriendly, exposed the stories of the people that walked through Central Park, and broken down some of the layers of prejudices.
Recently, one particular portrait brought considerable attention. After a boy talked about the most influential person in his life, Stanton investigated further, and found the school and principal the boy had talked about.
Situated in a neighbourhood riddled with crime, the school that Principal Nadia Lopez led wanted to instil something different in their students’ minds. Lopez wanted every student to know that they could belong anywhere, and to do so, she wanted to bring each sixth grader on a field trip to Harvard University, to stand in the Yard, and feel like they too, could go to school there.
As a result, an online fundraiser, “Lets Send Kids to Harvard” was started. Within 24 hours, the US$100,000 goal was reached, and by the next day, the number shot up to US$300,000.
This is not the first campaign Stanton has started to help disadvantaged children. Last year, he called on his followers to donate to the cause “Lets Send Kids to YMCA Summer Camp”. US$103,710 was raised, which enabled more programs to be built into the existing offerings, allowing more children to see more of the world.
Some people have called these successes the “HONY effect”. Many lives have been changed through the telling of their stories, captured with a candid photo, that have led to opportunities they would have never imagined. In a world where information is constantly evolving and discovered, it is these flashes of acknowledgement that help expose problems and allow people to see beyond their prejudices.