e:equal nonprofit -- A rebranding of Helping the Homeless Colorado

Our mission is to mitigate the impacts of inequality in the education system through targeted programming powered by youth

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  • Yes, I fulfill all of the eligibility criteria.

Initiative's representative name

Matine Khalighi

Initiative's representative date of birth


Initiative’s representative gender

  • Man

Which eligible market are you based in?

  • USA

Where are you making a difference?

United States, Colorado, Denver Metro Area

Website or social media url(s)

https://www.instagram.com/helpingthehomelesscolorado/ https://www.facebook.com/helpingthehomelesscolorado/ https://twitter.com/_HTH_CO

When was your organisation founded?


Focus areas

  • Financial skills and capability
  • Reskilling and upskilling the workforce

Project Stage

  • Start-Up (first few activities have happened)
  • Growth (have moved past the very first activities; working towards the next level of expansion)

Yearly Budget: How much capital do you need to accomplish your proposed project?

  • $50k - $100k

Organisation Type

  • Non-profit / NGO

1. Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that led the founder(s) to get started or the story of how you saw the potential for this to succeed

In eighth grade, I was never extremely involved in my community, but I felt a calling to make a difference, especially for those who were less fortunate. Through research, I was made aware of the broader causes of homelessness like the housing crisis or the lack of resources for the mentally ill. Even as a fourteen-year-old, I quickly recognized that the preconceived notions our society carried about homelessness were often skewed. In 2016, as an inspired, young activist, I co-founded ​Helping the Homeless Colorado​, a teen-run 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. To be clear, I had no experience running an organization, but I was passionate about helping those in need, so I let my journey begin there.

2. The problem: What problem surrounding employability or financial capability are you helping to solve?

Some homeless people have the time and physical capability to get a job; however, they are unskilled. Most of these individuals have been homeless most of their life and have not had the opportunity to develop the skills needed to compete in today's labor market. At Helping the Homeless Colorado, and soon to be e:equal, we believe that if we help these students go to school, they will become employable and contribute to the growth of society.

3. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

Helping the Homeless Colorado currently operates our Scholarship Awards program. We read the stories of homeless students from all across the state of Colorado, who are looking to attain higher education. Our programming allows us to provide selected students with a scholarship to go to community college or vocational school. We currently have five scholars in our program, and they are passionate students looking to do something great for the world despite their current living situation. Our organization will be rebranding this spring to "e:equal" where we will be dedicating all of our programming to helping low income and homeless students succeed in their education path. We are looking to build on our current Scholarship Award program, but also add the e:equal experience fund. This is a scholarship that will work as a micro grant. From our research, we found that students who are homeless in public education are often unable to pay for the small costs associated with public schooling. Our scholarship will work to cover those costs and help this population have the same high school experience as their more affluent peers.

4. How are you innovating or using unique approaches to solving the problem?

Scholarship Awards Program: If we can give students experiencing homelessness the chance to attain a higher level of education, they are more likely to find a way to contribute effectively to society. Our scholarship program is one of the first across Colorado that offers a structural solution to the issue. e:equal experience fund: From our research, it was evident that if we wanted to help students who are homeless, it must be done in a way where they do not have to self-identify themselves. If not, our program won't be utilized. This program requires simply a short online student application and, if chosen, the funding would be sent directly to school. No questions need to be asked and nobody needs to know the student's situation.

5. Employability: how is your organization or project teaching people to develop the skills that they need to survive in the future job market?

Most of the students that are in our scholarship awards program are looking to attain work in the professional market. Though we do not directly teach our scholars the skills, we provide all the necessary resources for them to learn. Almost all of our scholars would not be in school right now if our organization's scholarship did not exist. We are motivating and engaging students who are in such a tough and unthinkable situation to continue their education because it is worth it for them. We are fundamentally changing the mentality within this population that school is not worth the time and resources. Due to their situation, most of these individuals value working over going to school, which is understandable. However, our scholarship program is proving to them that toughing out and staying in school is worth their time.

5a. Please describe which future-oriented skills your organization is focused on fostering and how you have measured / plan to measure progress

We are looking to help our scholars develop some kind of skill that is directly related to their passion. For example, one of our scholars is very passionate about animals, and, therefore, our scholarship is covering the cost of her schooling to become a veterinarian. We allow our scholars to study anything, as long as they complete their schooling, attain a certain number of credits during their years in our program, and maintain a 3.0 GPA. We plan to measure progress by seeing where our scholars end up in the future. If they are working, then we know that our program impacted their life.

7. Marketplace: Who else is addressing the same problem? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

In Colorado, we are one of the only organizations that is addressing this issue. Through our research, we found that one organization, Hide in Plain Sight, has similar programming; however, they are not a youth-led ourganization. Everything in Helping the Homeless Colorado and e:equal will be executed and developed by youth. This is a grassroots movement led by teens, and we want to make sure that always stays with the organization. In addition, our Scholarship Awards program is more holistic, as we try to focus mainly on the student's success level in context of their situation.

8. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

We have supported and aided over 10,000 people, and my 20 person team is learning how to best challenge and overcome destructive stigmas and opinions, while also creating new methods and means in order to transform our entire community. Each one of our team members has grown and developed a more powerful understanding of their capability as a future leader, and I know they represent the best of the generation to come. Helping the Homeless Colorado ​has a three-structure approach—Advocate, Educate, and Alleviate—to effectively address the needs of Colorado’s homeless population. To help alleviate suffering and need our nonprofit has distributed over 50,000 basic necessities to those in need and awarded over $15,000 a year in scholarships for homeless students to earn associate's degrees. We consistently advocate for legislative action at the Colorado State Capitol

9. Financial Sustainability Plan. Can you tell us about you plan to fund your project and how that plan will be sustainable in the short, medium, and long term?

In the short term: Helping the Homeless Colorado, soon to be e:equal host frequent fundraisers like storefront fundraising, online fundraising campaigns, or our annual benefit gala. This helps provide general funding for the organization's programming and logistics. In the medium/ long term, we are hoping to continue holding smaller fundraisers like these which will continue to fund some of our mission's costs. However, we want to expand upon our corporate giving and grants sector. Though we have made some progress in these areas, we are hoping that with our new approach we will be able to improve upon this sector. We would like most of the programming to be funded by grants and sponsorships.

10. Team

1) Executive Board of Directors-- all young adults and full-time students; part-time work. This will include an: Executive Director, Development Director, Programming Director, Communications Director, and Operations Director. 2) Committee Board-- all young adults and full-time students; part-time work. These positions will be centered around our programming. 3) Adult Advisory Boards-- all adults with professional experience relevant to our organization's work; part-time positions.

Help Us Support Diversity! Are you a member of an under-served , under-represented, or marginalized group in your country of residence? (yes/no) (this question is optional – if you choose to fill it out, the response will not be shared with your fellow contestants)

  • Religion
  • Age

If you selected “yes” to any of the categories above, please explain how being a member of this group has impacted you and your work?

Religion- I have been a member of the Baha'i faith for my entire life. Its teachings emphasize serving others. This has inspired much of my work with this community. Age- I am a senior in high school, which often makes it challenging for some to take our organization's efforts seriously.

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Social media


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