In today’s society, it is the youth that enact change and call out national issues concerning the well-being of their peers. Whether it be a fifth grader or a senior in high school, younger generations are making their mark on the world. At Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, three sophomore students have started a nonprofit organization called “People of Change.” The youth-led initiative seeks to promote career development, life preparedness and social justice.
“One of our main goals is to unify BIPOC (black, indigenous and people of color) students all over the country so we can fight for each other’s issues and build stronger relations with each other,” Founder and Executive Director Jada Lemy said. “We mostly focus on educational and cultural aspects of the world, we stand for what’s right. We don’t limit ourselves to certain areas and we’re always free to talk about things that have to be talked about.”
Initially, the organization was supposed to be a club, but finding a sponsor was difficult. Lemy then introduced the idea of turning the idea into a nonprofit for all BIPOC communities. Following this, students began building a foundation, making short and long-term goals for the future.
“[A] short term [is] to get more members involved as well as doing more campaigns and making partnerships,” Vice President of Internal Affairs Roveschney Veillard said. “[A] long term [is] to be a well developed and respected nonprofit organization [that makes] tremendous strides in the BIPOC community, especially in policy.”
Additional goals for the organization include recruiting more members to have a larger impact on the community and educating as many students as possible. The organization also hopes to get career development courses in every high school in the United States, to have scholarship opportunities for all their members and to meet with the president of the U.S. at the White House.
“I started POC because I wanted to learn more about other cultures and other types of people. I wanted to see people of different cultures stick up for each other and fight for each other’s rights and values,” Lemy said. “I wanted to make sure that students of different backgrounds had equal access to education and tips to succeed as their white counterparts.”
Members involved in People of Change include multiple students from MSD along with several others from high schools across Broward County.
“We got POC out there not only through social media accounts, but also through contacting our friends who we thought may be interested,” Veillard said. “[We also] posted it on our own personal social media.”
The nonprofit organization is marketed primarily through Instagram. People of Change has a team dedicated to social media who make all their content, which consists of inspirational, motivational and educational posts.
“Our mission is to help BIPOC students and communities, [but] this doesn’t mean that only minority students are allowed to join,” College Readiness Director Nesya Small said. “We welcome anyone, regardless of their ethnicity. At the end of the day, once you are passionate about bringing awareness to the issues that affect BIPOC communities, and you are open minded and respectful, we will welcome you with open arms.”
Moving forward, the organization plans to have monthly discussions, volunteering events to help people in the community and educational lessons about BIPOC history. The founders conduct weekly meetings on Saturdays.
The executive board plans to create a TikTok account to connect to people of their demographic and a website to provide more information on their organization. People of Change can be contacted through email at email@example.com or through direct message @peopleofchangefl on Instagram.