By Jenny Vo
Patrick Mgbemena, a sophomore economics major is the co-founder and executive director of Project Legacy Inc.
“The goal of Project Legacy is to increase the rate of attendance of post-secondary institutions for all students who don’t currently have that as a goal or feel that it is even an option for them,” Mgbemena said.
Project Legacy plans to have yearly retreats that will connect students with professionals of various industries as well as college students to help guide their process of finishing high school.
Mgbemena said starting a nonprofit was always a dream of his, but he did not know much about the process and relied on the experience of co-founder Daniel Montgomery. Montgomery had previously started a nonprofit during high school but wanted a clean start.
The inspiration behind the nonprofit came from where Mgbemena was raised, Riverdale, Georgia, an area he described as stricken with great poverty for many.
“As I got older, and went through high school, I noticed that a lot of the students stopped caring about school and focusing not because they couldn’t or weren’t smart enough, but rather because they knew that their parents couldn’t afford college and that it wasn’t going to be an option for them,” Mgbemena said.
Existing government programs such as Pell Grants or H.O.P.E and Zell Miller scholarships are geared towards easing the financial burden of attending college. Project Legacy Inc., however, intends to help students get to a place where they can consider college as an option.
Mgbemena said the creation of this nonprofit came with a purpose to encourage students to take their education seriously. He also wanted to expose them to the many opportunities available including dual enrollment and government assistance programs students might not know about.
Chief officer of communications and sophomore Jennifer Nguyen, joined Project Legacy because the organization’s values and mission resonated with her.
“A lot of students from where I come from believe that graduating high school is the ultimate goal and they don’t really think about moving forward with their education because they aren’t really pushed to or really educated on options to move forward,“ Nguyen said.
“The ultimate goal of the entire school/county was to get their students to graduate. They only really pushed their students to do enough just to have enough credits to graduate but the rest is a race you had to complete for yourself.”
Nguyen is also from Riverdale and said that her high school had a great counseling staff but their priorities were not to help students to further their education.
Only four other students from her high school took advantage of the dual-enrollment program, as many did not even realize the school offered that program. She also said many students did not know how to apply for scholarships or that they could have their tuition completely paid for if they had high enough grades.
Project Legacy plans to address this by speaking to and working with high school students at their high schools to help with the process of thinking about and applying to college. They also plan to help students realize and utilize the opportunities and programs that they have available.
Members of the organization have started to speak at different high schools including Riverdale High School, where both Mgbemena and Nguyen attended.
“My favorite part about being apart of this foundation thus far is visiting local high schools and seeing how excited the students and the administrators are towards the foundation. I have really high hopes that this non-profit will help impact students in the future,” Nguyen said.