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Charlotte nonprofit GardHouse raising funds to provide debt relief for minority students

The goal is to raise $22,000 by next spring to award to graduating seniors.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Nearly a week until Giving Tuesday and Charlotte nonprofits like GardHouse are encouraging donations to help college students of color get set for success with the help of some student loan debt relief.

GardHouse started back in 2019 to provide Black and brown college students access to paid internships working with small businesses, nonprofits, and government agencies along with helping those students enhance their career development.

“I wanted to make sure that this organization was able to provide them with some type of support along the way," GardHouse executive director Jonathan Gardner said. “They’re able to not only take what they’re learning in the classroom and apply it in real-time, but they’re providing local support to the community so they can build their social capital.”

The next step GardHouse hopes to provide is some student loan debt relief. This comes at a time when President Joe Biden's debt forgiveness efforts remain stalled in the courts.

GardHouse has a goal to raise $22,000 by next spring. Donations will allow GardHouse to present at least $2,000 to nearly a dozen graduating students.

UNC Chapel Hill senior Righteous Keitt is one of those students who says he could benefit. Keitt is a double major in political science and public policy. He says his biggest concerns are finding a well-paid job post graduation and the ability to cover any remaining student loan debt.

“Times are tough. We don’t know what things will look like by the time I’m graduating and honestly, it is a worry of mine -- especially when you talk about the cost of living itself," Keitt said. "With rent being as high as it is, with food prices being as high — these are all things that I would have to worry about and it’s not necessarily the easiest time to find a job that pays the amount of money needed to live.”

Recent unemployment data shows Black and brown college students are twice as likely to be unemployed once they graduate.

The goal of GardHouse is not only to provide money, but also hope.

“A lot of students are really looking at the cost of what it really means to live their dream," Gardner said. "That starts to look a little bit more bleak for a lot of students."

Donations to the GardHouse scholarship fund can be made online.

Contact Briana Harper at bharper@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.  

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