Black student organization establishes fund for students’ essential needs

A Black female student organization is raising money for members unable to afford goods and services amid the COVID-19 pandemic and after looting during police brutality protests.

The Black Girl Mentorship Program, a student organization aimed at unifying Black female students, set a $5,000 fundraising goal to create the BGM Empowerment Fund, an ongoing fund for members in need of emergency financial assistance. Senior Precious Smith, an exercise science major and BGM’s president, said the executive board wanted to establish the fund as an ongoing resource for students to feel supported by the organization year-round after hearing from members struggling financially and emotionally during the pandemic.

“Some people don’t have access to a grocery store,” Smith said. “So we’re going to help there. Some people when it might be time to get to school, they might need help with a textbook, might need help with tuition assistance.”

Smith said she first thought of the idea for a fund after having conversations with members who told her stories of their financial hardships like family job losses as a result of the pandemic and watching news stories about families struggling to afford essential needs like mental health counseling.

“I feel like it’s important for us to make an impact with the members that are in our organization,” Smith said. “Because as sisters, we need to stick together, and my family has a thing that says we’re stronger together.”

The executive board for BGM plans to fundraise year-round despite the $5,000 goal, Smith said. She said students who want to donate to BGM’s fundraiser can do so through Venmo, an online mobile payment service, to send donations directly to the organization’s fund.

“Help us help others,” Smith said. “I feel like that’s the most important thing, that we’re uniting. And we’re standing with those who need us the most right now especially those on our campus and those in our program.”

Sophomore Talyn Williams, BGM’s outreach coordinator, said the fundraiser raised more than $1,600 as of Friday, leaving her “speechless” at the support the organization had gained from the student population outside of BGM. She said she has seen students donating and sharing the fundraiser online who the organization had never interacted with, reflecting the support from people “eager” to donate to Black causes following protests against police brutality and sparking aid for the Black Lives Matter movement.

“It’s really good to see that people care and that they care about Black women, specifically the Black woman on GW campus, and that they’re willing to give to a cause that is going to not only help out their peers, but it also just helps the GW community as a whole,” Williams said. “With these acts of donating it’s almost unifying the entire campus.”

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