(New York Times) – The fat yellow package was addressed to the principal, students and staff of Mott Hall Bridges Academy in Brownsville, Brooklyn. Inside were hundreds of red business cards printed with a single message: “You Matter.”
The cards, from an anonymous sender, arrived on Wednesday, along with a box from Amazon containing 10 copies of the book “Colleges That Change Lives.” These were just the latest donations to a public middle school whose efforts to educate low-income children in New York City have inspired people far beyond its cinder block walls and spurred a remarkable social media campaign that has raised more than $1 million for the students. Mott Hall Bridges Academy was profiled in a cover story that appeared in Metropolitan in December as part of the Poorest Neighborhood series.
“I tell my scholars they matter,” said Nadia L. Lopez, the school’s founder and principal, who plans to pass out the red cards to the students and staff. “Now there’s this card they can walk away with. It makes my heart smile.”
The campaign for Mott Hall Bridges began in January after a chance encounter between one of its students and Brandon Stanton, a bond trader-turned-photographer who has been documenting people’s stories for his popular blog, Humans of New York, for nearly five years. Mr. Stanton had just hopped off the subway in Brownsville and was trawling for his next subject when he saw Vidal Chastanet, 13, walking home from a corner deli.