Today we’d like to introduce you to Jada.
Belizean American, Speech and Language Pathologist (CF), philanthropist, and founder of Jada’s Got Your Backpack. Jada Augustine created this organization to give back to children in Dangriga, Belize who cannot afford backpacks and school supplies, she has also implemented a scholarship program. Jada’s Got Your Backpack is a nonprofit organization whose purpose is to meet the whole needs of the community members providing support services that will include; literacy and personal development.
Jada’s Got your Backpack goal is to increase the rate of graduates in Dangriga, Belize by providing backpacks and school supplies. We want students to feel confident in anything that they may pursue while viewing education as a strong foundation.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
I started my nonprofit at a time when I was going through a huge transition in my life. I was deciding whether or not I would continue my education and pursue my masters. Not only was that a huge decision but the school I wanted to attend was Howard University, which is nowhere near my home of Los Angeles, California. With so many choices at hand, I was overwhelmed at times. Initially, I did not want to start a nonprofit because I did not have confidence. I thought to myself “You’re only 21 and you’ve never run an official business” But I received some encouragement from this woman by the name of Tamea Scales. I had met her from a connection of mine. One statement that she told me that I would never forget was “If you don’t believe in yourself or invest in yourself who will?” I really thought about this statement. However, I didn’t have the funds readily available to me. As time passed, I received a scholarship from my undergraduate school California State University Long Beach. I thought to myself, I can do three things with this money: buy a new car, save it for graduate school, or start my nonprofit.
It took me a while to make my decision but after some time, I made the decision to start something bigger than myself which was nonprofit. I was super scared but the decision felt right. I remember meeting up with this woman by the name of Angela at a local Starbucks in Inglewood. That day I had no intention of starting my nonprofit….. But it finally happened. Angela is the sweetest most humble person you could meet. I remember that day, I was telling her how I was somewhat ready to start the process. She has an amazing nonprofit of her own. She said to me, “let’s call my guy and see if he can start it or guide you”. In my head, I was nervous. The man ends up picking up and to cut things short, I went to his office that same day and that’s when Jada’s Got Your Backpack officially started. Prior to starting a nonprofit, I would go to Tamea’s events and other nonprofits events to get a sense of how to run a business. I saw things that I loved from each nonprofit and modified it. I knew once I started this business, I had to give it my all.
Through all my trials and tribulations my nonprofit has stood solid since January 17, 2017. From the beginning, one of the struggles was gaining adequate support. Asking people to donate their hard-earned money is never easy. But one gift that I possess is my charm and my lighthearted personality which has gotten me into doors and in the presence of people, I would never have imagined. This gave my nonprofit exposure. Another struggle was balancing. I was living away from home juggling school and now I had a nonprofit…… Mindblown. Nevertheless, I have not only learned about myself but I have learned how to be a young Black businesswoman. I take so much pride in this.
We’d love to hear more about your organization.
Jada’s Got Your Backpack, a non-profit organization founded in 2017 provides backpacks with school supplies for students in Belize who are unable to afford these particular resources needed for their education. The mission of Jada’s Got Your Backpack is to provide students with the tools that they need to succeed in the classroom. The funds we make enable the goal of the nonprofit to provide students with access to their own school supplies. The supplies included in the backpack depending on the grade/age of the child. Belize is where both of my parents are from and I know that I am making a difference. I love my culture, my people, and my roots. To this day, JGYB has given away over 500 backpacks filled with school supplies. We have also provided a classroom in Dangriga Belize with a new in-class play area. It warms my heart when I see the kids and their families. I am giving back to the community my parents came from. All the smiles that I see at the events or after the events is what drives my nonprofit’s success.
JGYB would not be where it is without my parents, family, and friends. I would like to thank these special individuals that have played a part in the success from the beginning: Jacquelyn Augustine, Clinton Augustine, Jarelle Augustine, Carrie Garcia, Theodora Zuniga, Bernadeth Buckley, Gus Aranda, Jerika Martinez, Alexandra Morales, Jerilyn Johnson, Belinda Daughrity, Michelle Powers, Tony Nguyen, Annel Zubri, George Maliat, Rachael Hamlet, Lahya Woodruff, Kevin Avila, Joshlyn Johnson, Marcus Johnson, Ashton Willams, Nkechi Okoroma, Mercedes Mendoza, Imani Willams, Destinee Ellis, Erika Dorsey and Tijera Willams. I can never take all the credit for my success. These individuals have supported my events from the beginning, anything that I have asked for they have provided! I am ever so grateful for an amazing support system! I am nothing without my support.
If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
I would take nothing back. It has been an amazing journey. I am a different Jada. It has taught me how to be patient and let everything fall into place. I have not only cultivated others in the process but myself. It’s crazy because there have been people that have told me I inspired them and now they want to start their own nonprofit. When people tell me they look up to me and admire my work. I feel so special and I am humbled. I know that I have a responsibility because there are people watching me and analyzing my moves. One word that my father pounded in my head earlier this year was “focused” and when I get a little off track or things do not go exactly how I want, I think about that word.
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