Politics | March 11th, 2024

Empowering the Community: The Vision of a Student-Led Non-Profit

By: Brianna Leonard || Staff Writer
Empowering the Community: The Vision of a Student-Led Non-Profit

Three students at Florida A&M University came together in February 2022 with the goal of uniting the Black Community through education. Christopher Mathews, Winzie Wilson and Imani Ho-Sang created Helping Black Communities Unite Incorporated  in 2022.  

Mathews, who formed the idea in high school, is a fourth-year Political Science major with a minor in Afro-American studies. He believed that the black community needed a change and that if this generation did not step up, it would be even harder for future generations to come.  

The non-profit’s vision statement is, “One day black communities will be economically sustainable and politically engaged safe havens driven off the unity and cooperation of the youth.”  

Mathews has many goals with this organization, but the main goal is helping the black community grow their political and economic knowledge.  

“Growing the knowledge will allow us to apply the knowledge,” Mathews said. He believes that when one develops a proper understanding of how politics and economics work, they are pushed toward action. 

 “I feel like having that knowledge allows our best thinkers to put their minds to the test and get us out of the situation that we’re in politically and economically,” Mathews said.  

This non-profit is working towards that goal in many different ways. The most crucial one for Mathews is to help young black children. The strategies for accomplishing this include mentoring and tutoring programs at FAMU DRS, a local school.  

On top of helping the children with their homework, the organization uses the mentoring program to communicate and connect with black children. They talk to them about what is happening at home as well as making sure they are staying focused in school.  

“Poor black kids need help,” Mathews declared passionately. “A lot of these kids don’t have father figures. A lot of these kids don’t have siblings.”  

Mathews explained that black children having someone around their age range that they view as “cool” plays a big part in helping them. He also claims that starting with the youth and leading by example will show in the future not just in their personal lives, but in the community.  

Mathews also believes that raising political engagement on campuses is important. One of the organization’s goals is to get more black people educated and involved with politics. 

 “We can’t tell you who to vote for, we can’t tell you what to believe, but we can embody that change.”  

One of the organization’s methods for educating the community about politics is quite simple: sending postcards. HBCU Inc. sends postcards to people who are not registered to vote or did not vote in the last election and tells them where their polling station is.  

Mathews feels that since the letters are all handwritten, it will feel more personable to the voter. The volunteers also do not follow a script for their letters, they can include whatever message they deem fit.  

“Each student is passionate about different things,” Mathews explained. “It just allows us to actually voice what we believe in and send those out to people who haven’t voted yet.” 

 Mathews also believes that this empowers the volunteer more than the voter. He explained that when they feel like they are actively encouraging people to make changes with their specific passion, it resonates more with them.  

HBCU Inc. has countless other methods it uses to reach its goals. The organization has created a garden at FAMU, where they will be selling herbs and fruits to help the community with their health.  

They invite different speakers to talk to students, from Tallahassee Mayor John Dailey to activist and social media sensation Dr. Umar. Mathews hopes that bringing politically engaged speakers every year can connect the youth in an elevating way.  

Mathews aims for the non-profit to be worldwide eventually. He plans to start at Historically Black Colleges and Universities and hopes to grow from there. When asked how he plans to maintain his goals once they are achieved, he answered simply, education. 

“Without education, this means nothing.”