Over 12.9 million students in our nation's public school system are living in poverty or considered to be homeless. And, Coronavirus has only exacerbated this problem. Because of this pandemic, over 64,000 schools have been forced to close in the United States, leaving some students in need without access to shelter or food. This is exactly why high school seniors Matine Khalighi and Alyssa Gorkin co-founded EEqual, a Denver-based 501(c)3 for-youth-by-youth nonprofit organization that aims to mitigate the impacts of economic inequality for students experiencing poverty through youth-led, targeted programming.
Abhishek Pakhira, COO of Aureus Tech Systems and member of EEqual development board, says he is thrilled to be a part of an organization that is working to combat "homelessness at the root." Aureus will be sponsoring at least one scholar a year to assist in EEqual's efforts to providing homeless students with a college education. "Poverty and homelessness are often systemic issues arising from a lack of access to education. We'd like to be a part of the solution."
Matine and Alyssa worked with the rest of their executive team, which consisted of four other high school students, Manar Jeelani, Lydia Shimelis, Maggie Power, and Tira Durrell, to create the nonprofit and all of its programs. "We first started by spending as much time as possible researching and learning about the population we were trying to serve," said Maggie. "None of us know what it is like to be a homeless student, so it's unfair to assume we know how to help them," added Lydia.
Building EEqual took the team approximately nine months, brainstorming ideas, developing programs, branding, and figuring out a creative way to launch the program. The executive team also worked to build two adult advisory boards. Katherine Palmer, teacher and member of the programming advisory board, believes that EEqual's mission is critical to supporting students in poverty "thrive as students of today and leaders of tomorrow."
"We are a 100% youth-led volunteer organization," said Manar "so we depend on people coming out to support us at events or online donations." EEqual needs your help in supporting those in need. You can visit their website at: www.eequal.org to find out more.
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