In four years, PEAKS has grown to new heights! We have undergone some exciting new changes to keep up with a rising movement of Changemakers, starting with our new name:
In 2008, the idea for PEAKS was born while hiking a mountain in Ecuador. I was working with PEAKS’ co-founders Steve Sherwood and Chris Sacco at EkoRural, a small non-profit working with indigenous mountain farmers to overcome the challenges of climate change. EkoRural was struggling to stay financially afloat with grants. It dawned on us that there was a constant, and untapped, influx of revenue in the tourism industry. Every day, hikers and climbers travel on farmers’ footpaths with little connection to the local residents whose livelihoods depend on those trails. And so, the first Campaign was born: a hike-a-thon! The three of us rallied our friends and family to join us in raising $1 for every foot we hiked by launching their own hike-a-thon or donating to our own Campaigns. Together, we raised over $15,000 for EkoRural!
When I moved to Ithaca last summer, I met with Steve’s friend and former classmate Ken Schlather, the executive director of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County (CCETC). Ken immediately saw the potential in PEAKS and invited us to join forces with CCETC. We began by testing the fundraising and friend-raising tools on our website with three unique CCETC Campaigns: Healthy Food For All, Ithaca Community Harvest, and Primitive Pursuits.
Each program’s staff invested on average a total of 3 hours of time in setting up and promoting their Campaign. In just 6 weeks, each program raised between $1,000 and $3,000 for their efforts; that’s about $675 per hour! In addition, 40% of the funds raised came from outside of New York State, showing the potential to harness new revenue streams for local programs. In a region bursting with innovation and entrepreneurship, the need for a crowd-sourced fundraising and friend-raising platform has become more and more apparent.
Based on this early success, PEAKS partnered with CCETC to make the platform available to Changemakers working in the following program areas:
Agriculture, Food & Nutrition
Consumer and Financial Management
Environment & Energy
Strengthening Family & Community
With support from the Park Foundation and CCETC, PEAKS is getting closer to reaching its peak, and helping Changemakers do the same! Over the past three months CCETC’s web developer, Pat Haggerty, a team of unstoppable Cornell student interns, and brave beta testers have worked together to launch our new and improved website! We are proud to announce that our fundraising and friend-raising platform is better than ever, and is now available to the rising movement of Changemakers across New York State!
We welcome your suggestions, and hope you will join in bringing your Cause to life!
Let’s fund the change together!