Jahkil, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
When I was five years old, I went to feed the homeless with my aunt and I was so sad with what I saw and I didn’t understand why they were sleeping on the street with rats and dirt. I asked my parents if we can buy them all homes but they quickly told me that we could not afford to do that so they helped me come up with an idea that would be more realistic.
We did research and I decided I wanted to provide homeless with toiletry items instead of food because many people give them food and I wanted to do something different. Also, most people only help during the holidays, so I wanted to do it all year long because people to not stop being homeless after the holidays!
This led to me starting an organization called Project I Am when I was eight years old. The goal is to build awareness to homelessness and to encourage other kids to be involved in their community.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
One challenge I face with Project I Am is limited funding support. As a child, I don’t have the financial means to accomplish the goal by myself. These needed funds help with the Blessing Bags content purchases, gas for distribution, storage fees, and volunteer incentives. A solution to this challenge has been partnering with local schools to host toiletry drives. I also serve as a motivational guest speaker at the school, which has in turn improved my leadership and communication skills. These speaking engagements help with the costs associated with purchasing items for the Blessing Bags, which are valued at $9 per bag.
Please tell us about Project I Am.
It quickly became my mission to build awareness of homelessness and to help the homeless population by offering them what I call “Blessing Bags,” a giveaway filled with wipes, socks, deodorant, hand sanitizer, granola bars, toothbrushes, toothpaste, bottled water, and more.
My impact has been felt across the globe. The Blessing Bags have been given to people in places of hurricane devastation like Huston, Florida, and Puerto Rico, and have even been distributed to orphans in Africa. To help with the financial assistance needed to purchase contents for the Blessing Bags, I have created fundraisers and asked for donations. My call for help has been heard by the media. Media outlets like Forbes, the Today Show, HLN, Windy City Live in Chicago and The Steve Harvey Show have all featured me. I have also received praise for my accomplishments so far by several community leaders including NBA Player LeBron James who invited me to participate in his #AlwaysBelieve campaign, Nike who invited me to be a part of the first class of #FutureVarsity and was featured with Carmelo Anthony. President Barack Obama even named me one 2017’s three influential people, tweeting out an inspiring message recognizing Project I Am and my service to the underprivileged.
What were you like growing up?
I am still growing up lol. I am a pretty goofy, lively and fun spirited kid who loves to help other people. My interests are basketball, tap dancing, and breakdancing.
- Website: officialprojectiam.com
- Phone: 773-800-OIAM
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @officialprojectiam
- Facebook: @officialprojectiam
- Twitter: @_ProjectIAm
Professional Photo with Ball in hand is Socko. My mother Na-Tae’ Thompson is to be credited for all others