Will you invest in my education? OR Crowdfunding Harvard

I was accepted to the Harvard Graduate School of Education Master’s program in Education Policy and Management.

I found out today I didn’t receive the merit scholarships from Harvard. While I’m willing to take out student loans to make this program a reality, there’s only so much money I’m approved to borrow. With an estimated $60K price tag, this makes things difficult. I’ve come up with an idea, and I’m asking for your help.

Will you invest in me?


I know a couple things:

  • I believe in transparency.
    • The kind of transparency that shows not only what is happening, but also what is possible.
  • I believe in the value of education.
    • I believe the value of any education can be increased by dialogue and transparency.
  • I believe there’s value to be had in the discussion of a transparent education.
    • The connections made in the pursuit of this discussion are the value. The discussion has happened and will continue happen, but the experience of transparent education and the network of people that gather around this experience will exponentially increase the value. It is the sustained part of the discussion that will make this important. It isn’t one paper. It isn’t one blog post. It isn’t one Personal Learning Network (PLN) project. It is the ongoing experience of learning in an transparent way. Finding a way to make the value grow because there are more people learning together is worthwhile work.
The traditional view of higher education has the student leaving the community to study in an cloister of learning, only to reappear upon graduation, degree in hand, ready to move to whatever’s next. With this project, I will bring the community along with me, invest the community in the process and build an archive of a transparent, dialog-driven education.For all the discussion of higher education, no true, public archive exists of the university experience, let alone an archive built in the public as the experience happens. Not only will this project generate discussion, debate and study of the graduate process, it will serve as an artifact of that process as it currently exists.


I want my graduate experience to be a conversation and a text that builds itself. I will blog about my studies every single day. Every paper and project will be shared online (and built online whenever possible) and Creative Commons-licensed. As a function of the blog, the program of study will be posted publicly so that all backers will be able to view any class notes as they are drafted in Google Docs to later be posted as part of the archive.

In every possible way, the experience will be public, transparent and built around the dialogue it generates.

What you get:

Funders will receive access to the project blog as well as be guaranteed one public thank you throughout the course of the program. Starting at $40, backers for this project will receive live access to all course notes as they are drafted when available, a weekly multimedia e-mail blast documenting the social highlights of the course of study including music, films, books and television shows. From $80 and up, backers will also be invited to monthly online chats to discuss the program status, content and any issues of relevance. Should the archive be published in book form, all backers will be thanked within the text.

Funding Goal:

What I’m asking from you:
  1. A donation of $40 or more.
  2. Blog, tweet, e-mail, text and share this project with everyone you know and tell them to do the same.
  3. Join the conversation.



If all of this proves impossible and I am not able to attend Harvard, any collected funds will be donated to Science Leadership Academy.


19 thoughts on “Will you invest in my education? OR Crowdfunding Harvard

  1. Mr. Chase: love this idea. One issue that I didn't consider in my experiment to learn out loud: the intellectual property of my instructors. I had to put one project behind a password because it used my instructor's syllabus. What policies does Harvard have about open access? What would it mean to them to have you putting ideas that they have some rights to out in the open? Just some thoughts: struggling with it myself and I don't have the investment piece to contend with.

    • Andrea, that's definitely something I've taken into consideration. That's
      why the language is written as “whenever possible.” The content that's mine
      will be easy to share. The content that's not, I'll negotiate on a
      case-by-case basis. If I can't post something, that will then lead to
      conversation on the blog of what that means and the implications for
      education and what loosening that particular restriction could mean.

      Thanks for the comment.

      Even more, thanks for being part of the conversation.

  2. This is the kind of funding model Kickstarter was built for, though it seems most of their projects are design/art based. I do wonder if “funding an education” is a new enough concept that they might latch on to it. I would reach out to them to see, because I think you'd have an even larger audience to draw from. The only difference would be if funding wasn't met the money would be distributed back to the donors automatically. I appreciate your honesty and willingness to try and build a model for receiving money for what you do, which I know is incredibly hard to do. One question, is the April 15th deadline on ChipIn a deadline for you to make payment to Harvard or just a random date you chose? I'd imagine ongoing funding would allow those who don't have funds immediately (*cough*a friend..you know…*cough*) to jump in soonish with money.Also, I started following you through Jabiz and though that hasn't been long I just want to tell you how much I admire what you've done and continue to do here. I truly hope to see you accomplish this.

    • Tim, thank you for the thoughtful comment. I actually proposed the project
      to Kickstarter and was rejected. Not one to take rejection laying down, I
      decided to go it alone. I definitely agree they would have provided a larger
      audience, but I'm guessing they weren't quite sure what to do with me.

      One startup (seed.me) turned up as I was searching, but they're not so much
      started as they are up.

      The April 15 deadline is when I have to let Harvard know my intentions. If
      things are looking good, I'll extend it. (You should get that cough looked

      Thank you for the kind words. Almost 100 days in and I've written more than
      50,000 words. Thing is, if this thing gets funded, I'm on the hook well into
      next year.

      Thanks for the kind words and thanks, in advance for telling everyone you

      – Zac

  3. People should donate just because you called it “Chasing Harvard”. That is a great pun if I have ever seen one.

  4. Pingback: Timmmmyboy » Crowdfunding an Education

  5. I need to wait a few days to figure out PayPal and get this all up and running, but I promise a contribution – good luck, Chase! I can't wait to see what you come up with up there.

  6. I've decided I want Chris Pine to star as you — when they make this into a movie!! Now…with all sincerity…… As someone who stalled on my education due to funding issues — I just want to say CONGRATULATIONS and I wish you the best.Whatever the outcome – you have put smiles on our faces and hope in our hearts — you will succeed wherever this journey takes you — but I just wanted to say THANK YOU for allowing us to be a part of this journey with you.I wish you ALL THE BEST!

  7. Dude! There are so many reasons why I want to help and so many excuses of why I can't right now. Feel terrible about it, but I am sure you understand. Good luck with this and I will try to share with as many people as I can. Good luck. Post Script: As someone who is still paying off my Grad school loans from Columbia, I can say that you are most likely learning more in your SLA classroom than any Ivy League halls, but I know what it feels like to want something so good luck.

  8. My first stint at a college, way back in 1991, I remember reading a Chicago Tribune article from a student who asked the readers to mail him a penny to help defray the cost of college. I always wanted to do something similar, but thought I would wait until people forgot. And so I forgot until you reminded me. If I remember correctly he raised $32,000 dollars so I think you can make your goal. Good Luck.

  9. I'm in. If nothing else, it's selfish as I'm applying to HGSE for Fall 2012 and I want to know what it's really like there in those hallowed halls. I have issues with the idea of an Ivy education and it honestly scares the bejeezus out of me applying to grad school. I look forward to reading your notes and reflections. I'd love to do the full $80 but I'm a 2nd year teacher & that's outside my price range. Good luck!

  10. Pingback: Things I Know 117 of 365: I am going to Harvard at Autodizactic

  11. There are two grammatical errors in the first 258 words of your entry.  You also use the word laying where you should use the word lying below in your response to Mr. Owens.  Please see http://grammar.quickanddirtyti… for a well written treatise on lie versus lay.And, so, I will not be investing in your education.

    • Rich,Thanks for the tips. I'll go in and make those edits.On the subject of *lie* vs. *lay*, I understand what you're saying. It's not as concerning to me. I take a more descriptive approach to word usage and am fairly certain what was more important was Mr. Owens' understanding of my message.As always, I appreciate the comments.Be well,Zac

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