We looked around and saw that while crowdfunding was helping entrepreneurs, creative projects, and large nonprofits raise funds, it was not spreading to some of the communities that needed it most - our schools, our community groups, and our youth. We asked why and spent the next 2 years on the ground trying to answer that question. Piggybackr is our answer. We've built an online fundraising platform that is instructional, safe for all ages, and team focused. Because community crowdfunding really is a joint effort among friends, family, community members, local businesses, and brands passionately helping each other reach their fullest potential.
Piggybackr wouldn't be possible without our community of young people, parents, teachers, coaches, administrators, mentors, businesses, nonprofits, and donors all striving to do big things for their communities.
We are passionate about empowering people of all ages and experience levels to achieve their goals, to take action, and to help their communities raise funds more effectively. While working with some of the most novice fundraisers, we learned two important things.
1) Fundraising at any age is difficult. It's not easy to ask for help. Online fundraising takes practice, too. Many online fundraisers fail because they don't know the tangible steps and tactics it requires. But regardless of the outcome, fundraising is an incredibly important life skill and empowering experience.
2) People give to others because they work hard and are passionate. Based on our research, people ranked "hard work" as the #1 most important factor in deciding whether or not to support a young person. That beat factors like the cause itself, how money will be spent, and even how many people will benefit. Giving is not about buying products or scrutinizing numbers, it's about determination.
Based on these two insights, we've designed Piggybackr to instruct teams on how to fundraise by providing tangible actions, resources, encouragement, and the chance to display their hard work, passion, and learning. It's not just about raising the most money. It's about building relationships, rallying supporters, and having the courage to take action and persevere. Piggybackr hopes to support the next generation of entrepreneurs, philanthropists, and innovators who will boldly lead us forward.
Andrea Lo is Co-Founder and CEO at Piggybackr.com. Her mission is to empower communities to take action and access the capital they need to make things happen. Prior to Piggybackr Andrea ran operations at a tech startup, consulted large companies, and built grassroots campaigns. Andrea is a TEDx speaker, UC Berkeley Haas School of Business alum, and enjoys writing and speaking on topics of crowdfunding, entrepreneurship, education, and women in tech. She's been featured in publications like the WSJ, Forbes, and ABC News, and was named by Town & Country Magazine as one of 50 top philanthropists in 2013.
She's interested in the intersection of business, philanthropy, & technology and empowering the next generation to become entrepreneurs, leaders, and philanthropists.
Keenahn Jung (Co-Founder and CTO) has been hacking since age 4, professionally since 16. Before joining Andrea at Piggybackr, he worked on a motivation app to help people stick to good habits by utilizing social accountability and gamification. Before that, he worked at a data-driven ad optimization platform, where he wrote crazy algorithms all day. Keenahn graduated with honors from UC Berkeley with degrees in Computer Science and Cognitive Science. He's currently a mentor at Hackbright Academy, a computer science school for women.
Keenahn's mission in life is to help others more fully realize their potential.
Youth Advisory Board
These are young people from across the nation who have not only made amazing strides in their communities but are passionate about empowering others too.
Abril Vela is a high school senior in Chicago, IL. Abril founded Chicago Girls in Computing an outreach program for high school girls interested in technology. She is also the team captain of her school's robotics team and recipient of the Aspirations Award in Computing by the National Center for Women and Information Technology. She is passionate about computer science, engineering, community outreach, and getting more women in technology.
Alexa Adams is a 20-year-old biotech major at UC Davis. She was chosen as a handful of people to be a Google Glass 'Explorer'. Inspired by her aunt, who is a teacher and interpreter for the deaf, Alexa is working to create an Google Glass app that will notify the deaf of sounds in the environment. She used Piggybackr to raise enough money for the prototype.
Arjun Agarwala is a 19-year-old sophomore at Bentley University in Waltham, MA. He grew up in Cambridge, MA. During his sophomore year in high school, Arjun co-founded a non-profit organization called Digital Independence, which strives to close the digital divide in his community. Arjun is passionate about business and startups and at the age of 16, became one of the youngest finance interns to be hired by Microsoft. Arjun is also a Coca-Cola Scholar and a Bank of America Student Leader.
Azza Cohen is a freshman at Princeton University and Piggybackr enthusiast. At school, she dances with the Princeton Bhangra team, led a 2013 Princeton Breakout trip to DC to focus on hunger and homelessness, connects students to entrepreneurs through Business + Today, and is a recipient of a 2013 Davis Projects for Peace grant. She took a gap year in India with Princeton's Bridge Year Program, and is excited to return to India this summer. Through the Davis Project, she'll be filming and producing a documentary about the efforts of Guria Sansthan, an organization fighting sex trafficking.
Bridget Soderna is a high school junior from Chicago, IL. She enjoys speaking French, playing softball, and most of all being on her high school’s robotics team. Her favorite way to spend her time is building with her robotics team! After college, she wants to be a biomedical engineer.
Erin Levy is a graduate student attending University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign for accounting. She played rugby for 4 years on Illinois Women's Rugby and participated as an Illinois Collegiate Rugby All-Star. Last spring, she completed a fundraising campaign for the All Star team and looks forward to more crowdfunding with Piggybackr!
James Bohnett is a collegiate wheelchair basketball player for the University of Missouri in Columbia. He played basketball for 7 years with both the BORP Bay Cruisers and the Golden State Road Warriors in California. Through high school, James toyed with a variety of instruments, from the brass to percussion. James says, “Piggybackr was a huge support for me and the Bay Cruisers and I am proud to be a part of their organization as a Youth Advisor!”
Jon Khaykin is an 18-year-old who was raised in the Silicon Valley and is passionate about startups. As a sophomore in high school, Jon started taking entpreneurship and technology courses at Brandeis University. Jon is currently the Head of Marketing and Outreach at Teens in Tech Labs, an organization that provides tools and resources to young entrepreneurs. He also previously served as a board member of a teen foundation that raised over $40,000 for clean water in Africa. Jon is currently working on a few of his own ventures, so keep an eye out for him.
Julia Khan is currently a sophomore in Los Altos, CA. She founded her school’s Club for Gender Equality and works as the Co-Chair of a teen committee for Girls Innovate. She is an active and proud member of the California YMCA Youth & Government program, a volunteer for Organizing for Action and has been featured on Upworthy for promoting religious acceptance.
Krystal Gutierrez is a high school senior in New York. She was introduced to Piggybackr through Scholars for Educational Opportunity (SEO).and was able tol fund a 5 week travel abroad program to Spain. During her trip she learned how to dance Flamenco, make ceramics, and put on a folklore play for the Guadix community. Krystal calls herself an outgoing, friendly person who is not afraid to take risks and loves to help others.
Kyla Wilson is a freshman at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). In her senior year, she was president of FIRST Team 2102 Paradox Robotics, where she first used Piggybackr. Kyla is interested in environmental science and engineering, and hopes to help build a more sustainable future. She is also passionate about STEM education and empowering students to become better communicators and leaders.
Marissa Vessels is a 4th year at UC Berkeley where she is studying Political Science, Social Entrepreneurship, and Public Policy. Aside from working with Piggybackr, Marissa is passionate about youth leadership and is a member of the Board of Directors at Youth Service America and the Chief Operating Officer at Greening Forward. In her free time, Marissa enjoys playing the guitar and serving as the leader of a lovely troop of middle school Girl Scouts!
Marium Dar is a senior from Brooklyn, N.Y. She also attends a year round rigorous academic program called Sponsors for Educational Opportunity (SEO), loves to read, write, study comparative religion, play sports (especially NFL and Field Hockey). Although born in the U.S., she comes from a Pakistani family. She loves to wear her veil and values hanging out with people from different religions and races. Marium is interested in medicine and political science, and hopes to open her own hospitals and a nonprofit charitable organization like Red Cross and the Islamic Relief Foundation (IRF) in underserved communities and underdeveloped countries.
Maura McDonagh is a high school junior from Chicago, IL She is a member of her high school robotics team and works as a Associate Creative Director at DesignHaus11, a graphic design comppany. Maura used Piggybackr to raise funds to help start Chicago Girls in Computing and heads up membership recruitment there. Her ultimate goal is to study engineering, so she can pursue her interests in technology while also being able to assist others.
N'namdi Andersen is 15 years-old and currently resides in Minnesota. Every day for 10 out of 12 months of the year she rows with her rowing team TCYRC, or Twin Cities Youth Rowing Club. N'namdi has been rowing for over a year now and loves it, she is now a varsity rower. Some of N'namdi's other hobbies are reading, listening to music, and acting. When she grows up N'namdi wants to become an actress - her biggest goal is to someday win an Oscar.
Olivia Woodford Berry
Olivia Woodford Berry is junior in High School and loves math and biology. Outside of the classroom, Olivia enjoys doing other activities like playing piano and bass. She is a member of Key Club (a youth division of a national community service club) and the National Spanish Honor Society. She is also a competitive rower with the Los Gatos Rowing Club. Olivia enjoys working hard, and take prides in her work both in and out of school.
Oscar Eclov-Reher is a 16-year-old junior at Irondale High School. Born and raised in St. Paul, Minnesota, Oscar enjoys playing soccer and volunteering in his community. His favorite activities include mentoring elementary students, delivering meals to the homebound elderly, and raising money for clean water in Africa. Oscar also previously created and developed a mobile app called Helping Hands that notifies students about extracurricular and volunteer activities. Oscar's volunteer work has had a deep impact in his life and he hopes other youth can be connected with similar experiences.
Regina Bonsu is a 19-year-old sophomore at Skidmore College in New York. She was born in Accra, Ghana and is 1 of 6 children. Thanks to her fundraiser on Piggybackr, Regina spent this past summer volunteering in Guatemala with a coffee cooperative in San Miguel Escobar. Regina hopes to help others with fundraising, so they can accomplish their goals too. "Sometimes all we need is a little push" she says.
Rishabh Swarnkar is 15 years old from San Jose, California. This summer, he visited Ghana, Africa, to build a school and teach unprivileged children there. For this trip, he successfully raised over $1,500 with the help of PiggyBackr to provide school supplies and the actual materials used to construct the school building. In his free time, he enjoys basketball, speech and debate, listening and singing to music, programming, community service, and Tae Kwon-Do. He is also President and Founder of Lynbrook UNICEF, an organization dedicated to improving the lives of children living in underdeveloped countries worldwide.
Rowan Wood is a sophomore in high school from Oakland, CA. She enjoys playing soccer, lacrosse and the guitar. Rowan is a dedicated young woman who loves a little competition! Upon reflecting on her Piggybackr fundraiser, Rowan says “It was exciting each time someone donated. In my head I even won!”
Sebastian Villegas is a high school student from NY. He enjoys being around people, doesn't matter where they are from. He is going to be the first generation in his family to attend college. Sebastian’s dream is to become a doctor; when he does, he aims to travel the world to aid kids who can't get afford help in their home country. He says he wasn't the best student, but he started to realize education was vital if he wanted his dreams to come true, so now he is giving his all to make his dreams into a reality.
Solome Tibebu is a recent college graduate and founder of Cognific™, a SaaS platform that helps providers improve mental health outcomes in patients, manage costs, and increase clinical throughput. In 2006, at the age of 16, Solome founded the non-profit, Anxiety in Teens, a mental health help website for youth after experiencing anxiety herself. Solome is a proud mental health advocate and national speaker. She is the first Entrepreneur-In-Residence in Minnesota for Ashoka's YouthVenture, a recipient of the Minnesota Association of Children's Mental Health Outstanding Service Award, and TEDx speaker, "How Anxiety Saved Me." She has deep experience with fundraising, and once had to sell steak and fish fillets to raise funds for her school.
Spencer Perry is a freshman studying Political Science, Economics and Computer Science at the George Washington University in Washington, DC. In high school, Spencer worked within organizations such as Youth and Government, Model UN, his local School Board, and Student Government. Spencer works part time as an Audio Engineer and volunteers for a number of community organizations throughout DC. Spencer hopes to someday go to law school and study constitutional law.
Sruti Modekurty is a sophomore electrical & computer engineering major at Carnegie Mellon University. She is an NCWIT Aspirations in Computing Award national runner-up and NorCal Affiliate winner. At CMU, she is on the executive board for the Indian cultural organization and recently joined Professor Red Whittaker's team for the Google Lunar XPrize Competition. She hopes to inspire more youth (especially girls) to get involved with science and technology!
Tyler Engel is a senior mechanical engineering student at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He hopes to design technologies to help people with disabilities. Tyler raised $7,000 on Piggybackr to help him purchase a strikeforce wheelchair - which will allow him to safely compete at a high level in Power Soccer (soccer played in power wheelchairs). Outside of school and soccer, Tyler loves music and going to concerts
Zoraver Singh Dhillon
Zoraver Singh Dhillon is 11 years-old, and a 7th grader from San Jose, CA. In his free time Zoraver likes to cook, play basketball, and ride his bike. He used Piggybackr to help organize his entire school to help an organization called Canine Companions for Independence. Helping others is one of his passions!
Want to nominate a young changemaker to be on our board? Email us at [email protected] with the subject "Youth Advisory Board."
Mandeep Dhillon - Children's Technology Advocate. Founder of Togetherville (acquired by Disney). Former VP at Disney.
Jane Hatton Finette - Community Builder. Former Director of User Engagement at Mozilla. Founder of Community Hacks. Mentor at Unreasonable at Sea.
Robert Chang - Startup Advocate. Co-Founder of Remix Learning. Investor in Education, Health, and Enterprise. Nonprofit board member.
Amy Zehren - Strategic Partnership and Branding Guru. Marketing, BD, and Partnerships formerly at Mozilla, W Hotels, Polo, and Equinox.
Brittany Murlas - Community Builder. Development consultant to nonprofits around the world in Guatemala, Argentina, Ghana, Rwanda, Great Britain, and Germany.
We are always looking for great talent. Think you have what it takes? Join us. Learn more!