UC Berkeley law student launches ‘Bald for (Small) Business’ fundraiser

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While feeling restless during the shelter in place, UC Berkeley School of Law first-year Kevin Frazier found himself wanting to help make a difference within the community and launched the “Bald for (Small) Business” GoFundMe campaign April 19, promising to shave his head in hopes of raising $10,000 for small businesses and nonprofits.

Frazier started the campaign with two of his hometown friends, Nishant Karandikar and Cody Burchfield, and fellow campus law student Ian Good. Frazier said in an email it was “clear” from his experience with nonprofits and outreach with various small business leaders that fundraising could help support community members while also following the shelter-in-place order.

“I reached out to Cody, Nishant, and Ian to gather ideas about how we could raise funds and awareness for small businesses and nonprofits in our communities,” Frazier said in the email. “Cody has some wild hair, so I was thinking he needed a hair cut … probably a substantial one … and that’s when the idea came about.”

The group will be splitting donations four ways among the PDX COVID-19 Mutual Aid Network, the Berkeley Food and Housing Project, the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank and the New Business Community Law Clinic. Donors, however, also have the option of specifying an organization they would prefer to donate to.

Initially, the group members planned to shave their heads after reaching their $10,000 goal, according to Good. Karandikar added that to “share some good faith” to their donors, they decided to have intermediate points. Frazier shaved his head Friday when they hit their $2,500 mark, and Good is set to shave his head at the $5,000 mark.

The idea of the campaign is that, because hair can grow back, small businesses and nonprofits should have the same opportunity as well, according to the GoFundMe page. As of press time, the group has raised $4,026.

According to San Francisco-Marin Food Bank spokesperson Gunilla Bergensten, before the pandemic, the food bank served 32,000 households every week, but it now serves more than 50,000 each week. Bergensten added that the organization is “grateful” for everyone who is raising money, as two meals can be provided with every dollar donated.

As a nonprofit launched by Berkeley Law, the New Business Community Law Clinic provides free legal support at different levels to new businesses and entrepreneurs, according to Des Lafleur, a teaching fellow at the clinic.

“Even if the campaign does not meet its goal, we very much appreciate the gesture and think it is a success if it helps bring awareness of community options for those in need,“ Lafleur said in an email.

Lafleur added that the clinic has moved to a digital platform and that funding could help extend positions within the clinic and bring on another attorney.

The fundraiser is set to end May 3, and Karandikar said the group hopes to inspire other people to help local organizations.

“Our sincere hope is that others will follow our lead,” Frazier said in the email. “Of course, you don’t have to shave your head to make an impact but we encourage everyone to keep this spirit of engagement going long after sheltering in place ends.”

Thao Nguyen is a deputy news editor. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @tnguyen_dc.