Co-founder of fundraising program says PBSC’s online classes were key

Josh Smalls grew up in Jacksonville, Fla. and has called Boca Raton home for the past 10 years.

He began his studies in music education, planning on a teaching career. As life happens, that shifted to sales and then technology, prompting him to take online classes at Palm Beach State College in 2017. From there, he earned his bachelor’s degree at Florida Atlantic University, where he was recently accepted into an MBA program though has declined the offer.

During his FAU days, Smalls could be spotted tailgating in the Palm Beach State admissions parking lot before FAU football games. He also found himself pledging with the Delta Tau Delta fraternity and raising money year-round that would instill a passion for giving and lead to a professional path of philanthropy.

In 2021, Smalls co-founded Crowded Rewards, a fundraising program designed to help groups increase revenue through their supporters’ everyday shopping. “My work with Crowded has been a natural fit for me,” says Smalls. “It’s a great, creative way for me to give back and pay forward.”

Philanthropy has always been a significant way of life for Smalls. “I’ve always been a part of organizations where fundraising was an essential component of our operation.”

Working with nearly 500 organizations, Smalls is proud that Crowded Rewards gives alumni an opportunity to give back but also offers an incentive for philanthropy. “I can’t personally give 10K but creating an opportunity for alumni to give back five or 10 dollars can be meaningful.”

For the future, Smalls sees himself working for a startup. “There is a lot of pressure since there are investors involved, meaning the goal is really to push the program for a great return. I can also see myself getting back to that MBA program.”

Getting started early as a full-time employee at age 19 propelled Smalls into a career that is driven by ideals that he truly finds important.

Smalls finds his own experience resonating with today’s students, telling them, “Get a job as soon as possible, even if still in school. I wouldn’t be where I am today if I had waited until graduation. Starting early gave me flexibility, for which I am thankful.”

Palm Beach State made higher education more than doable for Smalls, providing him with an opportunity to take online classes. With Smalls committing both himself and his profession to giving back, we could consider his success to be the College’s success – for him and our community.

In recognition of Palm Beach State College’s 90th anniversary, the weekly Alumni Spotlight Series showcases the College’s role in preparing generations of graduates to achieve success in myriad careers and give back to their local communities.

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