Pictured from left: Robert Garland, Kevin Darcey, Fund the First Chief Marketing Director Aaron Padin, and Michael LaLuna.
New York Tech alumni John Eichhorn (B.S. ’09), Robert Garland (B.S. ’08), and Michael LaLuna (B.S. ’08), launched FundtheFirst.com, an on online-verified contribution platform that enables anyone to host a contribution campaign for first responders in need, including fire, EMS, law enforcement, military, and medical.
The idea for Fund the First came after Garland’s New York Police Department (NYPD) colleague needed assistance to help pay for his daughter’s rising health care costs as she battled a rare neurodegenerative disease. Garland, a NYPD detective, created an online contribution campaign that raised $14,000.
He got together with his fellow New York Tech alumni to develop FundtheFirst.com, with the goal of helping those in need and putting an end to scammers and criminals who use first responders’ stories to collect online contributions that never go to the intended recipients.
“Our first responders need help to deal with losses due to injury or illness. Their families need assistance when first responders make the ultimate sacrifice and die on the job,” said Garland, chief executive officer of Fund the First. “Our nation’s first responders put their lives and livelihoods on the line every day for all of us. That has been no better displayed than during the Coronavirus crisis over the past three months.”
According to a recent national poll conducted by Fund the First, 25 percent of consumers who said they donated to an online fundraising campaign thought they were duped by fraudsters, and 81 percent admitted that they don’t know how to tell if an online fundraising campaign is legitimate. “We are here to make sure that first responders in need are not exploited. We are here to make sure they are helped,” Garland said.
Before any campaign launches on FundtheFirst.com, the identity of the first responder or family in need (in the case of a death) is verified. Fund the First partnered with id.me to verify all campaigns in a first responder’s name to securely prove their identity. Fund the First then directly remits payments to the campaign beneficiary. No third parties are involved in the process.
“For first responders, there is nothing more important than trust,” said Kevin Darcey, chief communications officer of Fund the First. “We have built a service that both first responders and financial contributors can count on. We know first-hand that our nation’s first responders face challenges. We look forward to helping overcome them.”