Crowdfunding Program Takes Off

Projects Get Lift Through Launch UMD
by Lauren Brown

The widow of a successful Terp is seeking to expand a scholarship for a computer science student like he was: “a bit eccentric, a good person who wants to make a difference in the world, a Renaissance man or woman.”

Through Feb. 16, Tamara Lyons is appealing to potential donors to support the Brian Lyons Scholarship at, a new crowdfunding initiative that’s taken off at UMD.

Since its start in April 2014, Launch has raised a total of $195,518 for 22 projects. Its success lies in short-term requests for modest gifts that bring to life intriguing or ambitious projects.

Nearly 300 donors crushed the $8,000 goal for a new equipment van for the Mighty Sound of Maryland marching band, raising more than $30,000. Researchers installing “sentinel” beehives across Maryland to monitor the health of the state’s honey bee population netted triple their $8,000 goal. With gifts of as little as $5, engineering alumni earned $6,000 to increase student teams’ funding in the Clark School’s Alumni Cup design competition.

Through Launch, Mrs. Lyons hopes to raise $17,000 before what would have been the 50th birthday of her husband (pictured above), a 1987 grad and late CEO of a software company who died in a motorcycle crash. That will raise the endowment to $50,000 and double the annual scholarship awarded to $2,500.

“I love using,” she says, “because it incorporates the latest in fundraising tools, which will benefit students whose computer science expertise will, in turn, shape the technology of tomorrow.”


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