The top 20 vote-getting schools that meet contest criteria will win $500,000 each—as long as the school officials have provided information on how the school will use the money to support education programs or initiatives. Winning schools will be announced in late September.

As with all things, using social media to determine grant winners has both its pros and its cons.

“The upside of social media granting is the potential to engage more people, rally communities, and of course, generate positive feelings for the brand in the name of corporate social responsibility,” Madia said.

“The downside is that even as these promotions engage, they may isolate as more control is given over to the hands of consumers—the information ‘haves’—which may leave organizations who need funding the most even further behind.”

Loflin added that the best applicant might not win, because the general public might not be as attentive to all aspects of the application in the same way that a judging panel would.

“You can reduce the likelihood of that by ensuring that you use social media and the public to only vote on finalists. That way, it doesn’t matter who wins—you’d feel satisfied that any of the applicants was worthy and met the grant’s criteria or standards,” he said.

As the use of social media in grant giving evolves, Loflin said there will be a greater need and request for transparency.

“The process of online voting can feel more like a popularity contest than a process for identifying the most qualified and worthy candidate,” he said. “Verification and accountability are good measures of fairness and accuracy.”

Links:

Pepsi’s “Refresh Everything” campaign

Kohl’s Cares

National Society of Collegiate Scholars

The Wharton School


Note to readers:

Don’t forget to visit the Re-imagining Education resource center. Inspiring and engaging today’s 21st-century learners, who have grown up surrounded with digital media and are used to having instant access to information, requires flexible resources that change with students’ needs. When teachers can leverage multiple technologies in a resource-rich classroom—supported by top-notch professional development—students forget they’re in school and instead become excited about real-world applications of the lessons they are learning. Go to:

Re-imagining Education