Crowdfunding project takes aim at Facebook bullying


December 18, 2013

Tara Tucker is an ASU student; she is also the mother of three young boys. Her interest in making the cyber world safer for adolescents motivated her to participate in the BullyBlocker project being led by Yasin Silva, an assistant professor in ASU’s New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences.

BullyBlocker is an application that aims to prevent cases of adolescents being cyberbullied on Facebook by extracting information from their Facebook data and alerting parents to potential issues. Yasin Sila, Lisa Tsosie, Tara Tucker Download Full Image

Tucker and other students are working to develop BullyBlocker with Silva, who teaches courses in New College’s bachelor of science degree program in applied computing. New College is the core college on ASU’s West campus. Himself a parent, Silva says he feels a moral obligation to do everything he can to eliminate the effects of cyberbullying.

With assistance from other offices across the university, Silva now is turning to the public to help make BullyBlocker a reality.

BullyBlocker is the first of several ASU research projects kicking off crowdfunding campaigns this month. The campaigns are part of ASU’s new, official crowdfunding program, managed by the ASU Foundation for a New American University. Several student ventures have already launched campaigns through the program.

Now, the Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development (OKED) is managing a new effort for faculty research, kicking off a rolling pilot period in December through the new year.

Crowdfunding is a means of securing financial support by helping individuals tap into their networks through the Internet. While a lot of research funding relies on receiving large amounts of money from a single donor, crowdfunding campaigns usually succeed through small donations from many individuals.

“With the support of generous individual donors, we will be able to provide much-needed research scholarships to student participants in this project, buy hardware and computing resources needed to complete the implementation of BullyBlocker, and provide students with the opportunity to attend research conferences and present the results of their hard work,” Silva said. “Most importantly, public support will allow us to empower parents in the battle against cyberbullying.”

Another student participant in the BullyBlocker project is Lisa Tsosie, who traveled to Minneapolis in October to give a poster presentation about BullyBlocker at the 2013 Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing. Tsosie successfully competed for a Google Women of Color Scholarship to attend the conference.

“As a BullyBlocker participant, I am gaining the kind of networking experience that will benefit me as I pursue the professional world of computer science,” Tsosie said. “Learning the kind of language that’s used to persuade, inform and request support is important if I want to establish a solid, reliable network within my field of interest. More importantly, if we receive the support we are requesting, I can gain the satisfaction of being a part of a team that created an invaluable application for parents and adolescents alike.”

Added Tucker, “I am gaining valuable experience in research and application development that I will be able to apply in my career endeavors. And it’s easy for me to be motivated to work on this project because BullyBlocker is a tool that I would like to have to help keep my children safe from the dangers associated with cyberbullying.”

By running their campaigns through ASU’s new crowdfunding program, researchers receive training on effective fundraising and coaching throughout the campaign, can use the ASU logo and branding, and can allow donors to claim their contributions as a charitable donation.

“It truly is an honor to have our project selected for the crowdfunding pilot at ASU,” Silva said. “The support we have received from OKED and the ASU Foundation has been outstanding, offering orientation tutorials and one-on-one meetings. Throughout this process, I have learned a great deal about online fundraising techniques and marketing strategies.”

You can see all of ASU’s crowdfunding campaigns, powered by the USEED platform, at asu.useed.net. Because contributions are made through the ASU Foundation, a nonprofit organization that supports ASU, donations may be considered charitable contributions.

Jan. 9, 2014 is the deadline to make a contribution to the BullyBlocker project.

If you are an ASU researcher interested in raising money through USEED, contact Kathryn Scheckel, assistant director of special projects for OKED, at (480) 965-9293. If you are an ASU student or staff member interested in crowdfunding, please contact Shad Hanselman, senior director of the Office of Annual Giving at the ASU Foundation, at (480) 965-0516.

ASU convenes leaders for inaugural Sustainability Solutions Festival


December 18, 2013

Arizona State University, the nation’s leader in sustainability education, is partnering with global leaders in sustainable business, consumer innovation, renewable energy, science and the arts for a weeklong celebration of sustainability solutions. The variety of activities, events and audiences reflects the encompassing nature of opportunities in the sustainability arena. 

Themed “It’s time to find a better way,” the inaugural Sustainability Solutions Festival is convening a series of events from Feb. 17-22, 2014 that are targeted at a wide variety of audiences, from families and the ASU community to film buffs and leaders of industry. Featured partners for the festival are the GreenBiz Group and the Sustainability Consortiumalong with additional partners Arizona Solar SummitArizona Science CenterArizona SciTech FestivalSedona Film Festival and the City of Tempe. Intel ISEF Sustainability Award winners Download Full Image

“The Sustainability Solutions Festival exemplifies ASU’s endeavor to address the world’s environmental, economic and social challenges of the twenty-first century through collaborative, transdisciplinary and solutions-oriented thinking and training,” said Michael M. Crow, president of Arizona State University. “As citizens of this planet, we have an obligation to future generations to embrace sustainability as a transformational core value in order to develop a society that is more environmentally sensitive, economically disciplined and socially just.”

The Sustainability Solutions Festival is one of eight programs within the Rob and Melani Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives at the ASU Global Institute of Sustainability. Supported by a generous investment of the Rob and Melani Walton Fund of the Walton Family Foundation, the Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives are designed to utilize the brightest minds in sustainability science to advance sustainability solutions, accelerate global impact and inspire future leaders.

“Incredible thinkers, courageous business leaders, dedicated practitioners and distinguished scholars are producing remarkable solutions to sustainability challenges. The Festival will celebrate and promote innovations that will ensure economic prosperity, cultural vitality and environmental resilience for many generations,” said Patricia Reiter, director of the Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives.

The Festival will kick off on Presidents’ Day, February 17, 2014, with two events at the Arizona Science Center in downtown Phoenix. Sustainability Solutions Family Day begins with kid-friendly sustainability demonstrations and ends with a special screening of "Carbon Nation," hosted by the film’s director and producer, Peter Byck. The Sustainability Consortium, a group of global corporations whose founding members include Clorox, BestBuy, Coca Cola and Disney, will also commence their first day of member meetings at the Mission Palms in Tempe to further their aim of improving consumer product sustainability.

Day two (Feb. 18) is headlined by the opening day for the sixth annual GreenBiz Forum at the Montelucia Resort in Paradise Valley. This three-day conference defines the trends, challenges and opportunities in sustainable business, including the presentation and release of the State of Green Business report. Notable speakers and guests include Mark Tercek, president and CEO of The Nature Conservancy; Peter Bakker, president and CEO of World Business Council for Sustainable Development; Anisa Kamidoli Costa, chairman and president of The Tiffany & Co. Foundation; Len Sauers, vice president of Global Sustainability at Procter & Gamble; and ASU President Michael Crow, who will deliver the conference’s opening address.

"The ASU-GreenBiz-Sustainability Consortium partnership, and the terrific program we have planned, are attracting many of the world’s largest companies,” says GreenBiz Group chairman and executive editor, Joel Makower. "The registration list is growing at an unprecedented rate, and we’re expecting another sell-out event."

In tandem with the GreenBiz Forum, ASU will be hosting a first-ever GreenBiz shadow conference at the university’s Tempe campus. Combining live streaming of the conference’s program with unique panels and presentations on campus, this shadow conference will allow members of the ASU community an exclusive opportunity to engage in the conference.

On day three (Feb. 19), the Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives is proud to present the Sustainability Solutions Celebration at the historic Heard Museum in Phoenix. GreenBiz Forum and Sustainability Consortium guests will enjoy local food, drinks and entertainment while exploring the sustainability-oriented practices of Native Americans across North America that are on display throughout the museum.

The fourth Arizona Solar Summit anchors day four (Feb. 20) at the SkySong Innovation Center in Scottsdale. The summit focuses on introducing innovative policies, programs and technologies critical in reshaping Arizona energy markets.

Day five (Feb. 21) is devoted to the Sedona Green Film Festival, as the world-renowned Sedona International Film Festival comes to Tempe. Sustainability-themed selections and panel discussions will appeal equally to those who embrace films as well as green practices.

The Sustainability Solutions Festival closes on Saturday, February 22, 2014 in Tempe with Picnic in the Park, a grand community celebration open to the public, designed to honor the spirit of farm-to-table with great food, activities and entertainment for kids and adults.

For more information about the Festival, visit sustainabilityfestival.asu.edu.

Jason Franz

Senior manager, Marketing and Communications, Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives

480-727-4072