In just one day after 37-year-old Alton Sterling was shot and killed by police outside of a convenience store in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Americans across the country rallied behind his family to show their support. In addition to vigils and peaceful protests, sympathizers have organized donation funds to raise money in the wake of the tragedy. So far, one of the most popular ways to donate to Sterling’s family has been through a scholarship fund set up on GoFundMe.
Sterling was a father of five. He was shot after police were called to the convenience store where he was reportedly selling CDs during the early morning hours of Tuesday. Graphic video footage that surfaced on Wednesday showed Sterling pinned to the ground by two police officers when one of them fatally shot him. In light of the reports and the video footage, much of the public has wondered why Sterling was shot and how to help his family recover from their tragic loss.
Issa Rae, an actress and creator of The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, was one member of the public who felt compelled to help Sterling's family. Rae tweeted on Wednesday afternoon that she wanted a way to help the Sterling family, and soon after she figured out her own way to make a significant impact. Rae launched a GoFundMe page to collect donations for a scholarship fund for Sterling’s five children, including the 15-year-old son who was overcome with emotion at the family’s press conference on Wednesday.
Rae started the fund with a goal of $40,000. Within six hours, she announced on the page that her scholarship fund had raised $100,000. She then upped the goal to $200,000, noting that she would double her own donation. She promised that all of the funds raised would go to the Sterling family.
At $100,000, she had already raised $20,000 to put toward each of the children’s college funds. That total came from nearly 5,000 donations.
In addition to Rae’s scholarship fund, several other GoFundMe pages were set up in the wake of Sterling’s unexpected death. One such page was created by a user named Sandra Sterling, who appeared from the page to be a relative. That fund was likely to be used for funeral costs, but it's not clear from the page. In the 24 hours after Sterling’s death, Sandra’s fund had raised more than $14,000, dwarfing her $3,500 goal.
Beyond the monetary donations, Americans rallied together on Tuesday and Wednesday to show their discontent for Sterling's murder. Hundreds of people gathered outside of the convenience store where Sterling was shot to protest Sterling's death and remember his life. Meanwhile, other vigils and demonstrations were planned for elsewhere in the country. If you're looking for a way to help, donating to Sterling's family is an easy and selfless way to support his surviving family members in their time of need.