Did you know that one tie-dye cupcake could change a life?
Between Nov. 1 and 8, fundraisers around the country — including at Skidmore College — will sell tie-dye cupcakes and donate the money to She’s the First, a nonprofit organization that provides girls in developing countries with the education they’re frequently deprived of.
“It’s the perfect outlet to channel the fundraising … we add food coloring to make it tie-dyed, which really stops people in their tracks,” said Tammy Tibbetts, founder of She’s the First.
Last year, the fundraiser was only held at the University of Notre Dame, which raised $900 for She’s the First, enough to sponsor three girls in Nepal. This year, Tibbetts decided to take the colorful campaign national.
“I realized this could be a huge opportunity, based on the reaction I was getting, to create a unified national campaign,” said Tibbetts.
So far, 66 groups across 30 states have signed on, but the goal is to reach 200 and span all 50 states.
“This is the first time it’s been a cohesion and community movement. We’re building up to this one week. We’re all doing the same thing together, with various creative spins on it,” said Tibbetts.
One of the fundraiser’s most active groups is Her Campus Skidmore, an offshoot of the national online magazine for college students. Kelsey Thorn, who handles publicity for Skidmore’s version, is the one who brought tie-dye cupcakes to town.
“This seems like a place we could get a lot of involvement in. People would feel like their money is going to a certain area,” said Thorn. “People are more willing to donate or give to a cause when they have a specific endpoint where they can see it going.”
Thorn picked Ethiopia as the country to benefit from cupcake sales. Her reasons for selecting that developing country were personal.
“I’ve always felt a big connection to it,” said Thorn. “I’ve always been involved with the Grace Fund, which is for helping children in Ethiopia get families. One of my mentors adopted both children from there.”
According to Thorn, 1 in 4 girls in the developing world are uneducated and not in school and less than two cents of every development dollar goes toward girls education.
“It’s a big deal for us to say every dollar we get is going toward that,” said Thorn.
Her Campus Skidmore is holding a pre-sale on Monday, Oct. 17, before the official sale on Monday, Nov. 7. The pre-sale will feature all types of baked goods while the big sale will only feature the coveted tie-dye cupcakes.
“We don’t have a definite goal, we just want to make enough to make a difference,” said Thorn. “We’re hoping to attract more activity for the day of the bake sale, and that’s more we can give.”
Her Campus partnered with She’s the First to hold a T-shirt design contest. Six winning designs will be made into T-shirts that will be sold for $15 each and benefit She’s the First.
Thorn submitted a handful of designs and had two chosen as winners. Pre-orders for T-shirts will be advertised at the Oct. 17 pre-bake sale.
“T-shirts need to be preordered because 100 percent of proceeds go to She’s the First so we want to promote and get sales for that,” said Thorn.
She’s the First has grown at a startling rate in just one year. In 2010, the organization raised $32,000 and sponsored 37 girls. So far this year (before the national tie-dye cupcake fundraiser) it’s sponsored 90 girls and raised $17,000 in a single fundraiser, the Girls Who Rock concert.
“We’ve been doing a good track record and want to keep building that momentum,” said Tibbetts.
So what does She’s the First mean? Quite simply, it’s about being the first at something … anything.
“That universal meaning of being a first — it’s so relatable,” said Tibbetts. “You were first in your own way. By recognizing how you’ve been able to break barriers because of your education it just really sparks that desire to pay it forward so another girl has that opportunity as well.”
Tibbetts wants to raise $20,000 from tie-dye cupcake sales.
“Once the event ends it’s really the actual beginning because when girls are sponsored we get all theses stories and photos back about them,” said Tibbetts.
Those success stories are part of what has distinguished She’s the First as more than just another nonprofit organization. It’s a social media platform of sorts, reaching girls in high school and college through a blog, Twitter presence and Facebook page.
“I want to give young people in the U.S. a creative way to give back,” said Tibbetts.
For Thorn, She’s the First and a few batches of tie-dye cupcakes are giving her an outlet to address an issue that’s important to her.
“If given the right opportunities, anyone anywhere can really do anything,” said Thorn. “The smallest thing can make a huge difference … this is giving people the opportunities that they deserve that are unfairly kept from them.”
Anyone interested in contributing to the pre-bake sale on Oct. 17 can reach Thorn at [email protected] The pre-bake sale is Monday, Oct. 17, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Case Student Center on campus. The official tie-dye cupcake sale is Monday, Nov. 7, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information about She’s the First visit www.shesthefirst.org.