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EIU turns to crowd-sourcing to help fund center

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014 12:00 p.m. CDT

CHARLESTON (AP) — Eastern Illinois University hopes to open a new autism center and is trying to raise startup money in an unusual way for a university: a crowd-sourcing campaign.

EIU needs about $125,000 to open the center and hopes to generate about $65,000 of that through crowd-sourcing, said Mike Murray, director of development for the Charleston university. The rest of the money would come from grants and other more traditional sources.

Crowd-sourcing campaigns typically raise money online through many donations of all sizes, relying on donors and other people interested in the project or cause to spread the word. The university's campaign is intended to give more a stake in the project than a traditional appeal to a handful of wealthy donors or application for a grant would, Murray said.

"It's a new means of getting more people involved," he said. "It gets information out to a broad audience."

More than $35,000 has been raised in the month or so that the campaign has been running online, accord to the project's website.

EIU has a history of autism work through its Speech-Language-Hearing Clinic, but it hopes to expand its reach.

Once open, the center would need another $125,000 a year to operate, according to Murray.

"In the ideal world we will endow this project so the endowment would spin off approximately $125,000 each year," he said. To do that, "We're going to need a couple million dollars ultimately in an endowed fund."

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Online:

http://www.eiu.edu/crowdfunding/autism/

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