Can Silicon Valley Beat Poverty With Crowdfunding?

Benevolent, a crowdfunding site that helps economically needy individuals pay for one-time items they need to work, is expanding beyond a Chicago beta into several additional markets including Detroit and Silicon Valley.

While Silicon Valley tech workers are well compensated, the tech industry has brought many transient workers to San Jose, where the cost of living is 50 percent higher than the national average. About 11 percent of the city’s population falls below the national poverty line.

The platform, founded in 2011 by Megan Kashner, uses crowdfunding to enable individuals to make small donations, averaging $50, to help cover smaller, one-time needs that are often not covered by government programs, such as eyeglasses, work uniforms, transit passes and computers. An average campaign raises $470.

Benevolent’s Silicon Valley expansion is funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

crowdfunding, social media, social networks, micro-lending

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