They’re making sure move-in day is the least of these students’ worries!
TeeJ Mercer is an award-winning TV editor, producer, and the founder of Move-In Day Mafia (MIDM), an organization aimed at offering dorm makeovers and financial assistance to first year students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) who have “aged out of foster care, are homeless, or require financial aid,” Essence reports.
We all know that college expenses can get overwhelming and while a reported 70% of foster care children aspire to attend college, only 3% of them actually attend, with a reported 1% seeing it through to graduation. At the root of these numbers is financial insecurity that often prevents these former foster youth from earning their degrees. Now Mercer is trying to do her job to eliminate some of those expenses.
“How can students focus, create and thrive when they are worried about their basic human needs. I just want them to go to school and not have to work two or three jobs to take care of themselves. The only thing they should be concerned about is studying hard, partying, making memories and ultimately graduating,” said Mercer.
MIDM is completely made up of volunteers who offer their time and funds to get these students settled in with ease. Founded in 2022, during its first year, MIDM was able to help 13 freshmen move into Paul Quinn College in Dallas, Texas. This year, MIDm has a reported 39 students on their move-in day lists, attending Paul Quinn, Prairie View A&M University, and Fisk University.
A Howard University alum, Mercer whole-heartedly understands the challenges facing students attending HBCUs. Compound that with an issue of homelessness, lack of familial stability or financial need and it can all be too much for scholars. Mercer is hoping to help as best as she can and says the commitment of her volunteer team is absolutely “mind-blowing.”
Currently, the MIDM team faces two main challenges, annual funding for their work and getting students from these vulnerable demographics to actually apply without thinking it’s “too good to be true.” While move-in day is the team’s first priority, they don’t stop there, also offering students care packages throughout the school year that include hygiene and basic cleaning products. For Mercer, it’s a labor of love and she says no matter the challenges, MIDM will do everything they can to keep the work going in service of these students who need it the most.
“It costs about $1700 to get each of our MIDM scholars moved in and set up with their first few months of care packages. But we have resolved that we will do EVERYTHING in our power to disrupt the Foster Care to prison pipeline and transform it into the Foster Care to HBCU graduate pipeline!…We want to ensure they stay focused on being a student and allowing us to take care of their basic needs,” she said.
To learn more about the Move-In Day Mafia and donate to this worthy cause, visit www.moveindaymafia.org.
Cover photo: This nonprofit is offering free dorm makeovers for foster kids attending HBCUs/Photo Courtesy of Kali9/Getty Images