The Laravel Community Gathers to Provide Conference Scholarships

Late last year, Tighten founders Matt Stauffer and Dan Sheetz were planning how they could contribute positively to the Laravel community. They made a pledge: Tighten would sponsor ten guests to attend Laracon US, and they'd focus on inviting folks from groups traditionally underrepresented at technology conferences.

The original plan involved a small group, because we intended to cover the costs of travel, food, lodging, and a full conference ticket. However, the switch to an online format made the same amount of money go a lot further, and we updated our plan to cover 100 scholarship recipients' tickets.

We started our recruitment efforts quietly, reaching out directly to meetups and tech groups Tightenites were already connected to. But this moved too slowly, so we soon built out a simple application for developers around the world to request tickets. Once it became clear our 100 tickets wouldn't be enough, we started manually collecting sponsors' information to add to the ticket count.

The lovely folks at Laracon got word of what we were doing, and they quickly reached out and offered to build a "sponsor a ticket" feature into the Laracon checkout process. Soon we were adding dozens of sponsored tickets a day to our offering!

I'm always involved in the operations of Tighten's programs, so I had the pleasure of working with the Laracon team to establish a batching process for ticket requests and donated tickets. I also had the joy of communicating with recipients to let them know they had a ticket, and who had sponsored them unless the sponsor chose to remain anonymous.


We began with a goal of reducing barriers to attending Laracon. We wanted folks who may not otherwise have been able to attend to have the chance to learn, participate, and be welcomed by the Laravel community.

I think it's safe to say that we met that goal! While Tighten started this plan, the outpouring and welcome from many other individuals and organizations is really what made it succeed. It is easy to imagine the positive ripples that come from this experience--that people from around the globe were able to share and learn from each other, making new connections and sowing seeds of future Laravel development in their own communities.

It will remain a highlight of my professional life that I had the opportunity to be a conduit for so much generosity and gratitude. I'd love to share additional thanks to Eric Barnes for his back-end work to distribute guest tickets.

Interested in setting up a similar conference sponsorship program? I'm more than happy to answer any questions you might have on our behind-the-scenes details. Reach me on Twitter at @minn_finn.

By the numbers (as of August 31, 2020)

Tickets used: 288

Tickets donated: 298

(Note: funds donated in excess were put toward closed captioning costs to increase accessibility of future viewings)

A list of all the sponsors (alphabetically): Alison Kirk, Anonymous, Artisan Build, Ben Sampson, Beyond Code, Bill Condo, Caleb Porzio, Cam Scott, Chris Gmyr, Curtis Blackwell, Dean LJ, Eric Barnes, Fathom Analytics, Fluent Group, Ian Landsman, Insta Notified, Jacob Baker-Kretzmar, James Brooks, James Mills, Jamie Shiers, Jeffrey Davis, Jess Archer, Joel Clermont, Laravel, Martin Bean, Mike Mollick, Nathan Barrett, Ollie Read, Packet Tide, Primitive, Programodo, Shawn Lindstrom, Steve Pyle, Tighten, Timothy Rowan, Tyler Mikev, understand.io, and Wilbur Powery.

A list of all the countries represented: Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Argentina, Bangladesh, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Croatia, Denmark, Egypt, Ethiopia, Finland, Germany, Ghana, Greece, India, Indonesia, Iran, Jakarta, Java, Jordan, Kenya, Libya, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, Myanmar, Nepal, Netherlands, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Phillipines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Togo, Turkey, Ukraine, USA, Vietnam, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

A map of all the countries represented by Laracon scholarship program attendees in 2020.

Gratitude

Here are just a few of the messages we received from recipients of scholarship tickets.

Awesome, thank you so much for this great opportunity. I appreciate it.

I'm so happy to hear this from you, Thanks a lot for your sponsorship. I got the email confirmation mail, Sure I'll happy to join this event, Thanks Again!!!!

Thank you so much for letting me know! I think that is a spectacular program, I hope to contribute next year.

A big thanks for the ticket! 👏

Wow! This is awesome.

Waooo, Thank you for this, I really appreciate it.

Thank you for this email, and also to Understand.io for giving me this opportunity.

Thank you so much for your email and for this amazing opportunity, I'm really looking forward to the talks. Thank you for making this possible!

Wow, I can't believed it, thank you very much!

Thank you so much! This means a lot to me.

Hello there, I'm thrilled to join laracon online for the first time 🥳.

Thank you so much, looking forward to it!

Thank you for the confirmation. And thanks much for the sponsorship.