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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

The Supply club breaks down barriers with education

Published: September 20, 2013
Section: News

A new club on campus, The Supply, aims to empower urban slum youth through the medium of education. The club represents a non-profit organization based in Queens, New York, which educates through a network of secondary schools that support young people through practical education. Although urban poverty exists in every country, The Supply currently concentrates its resources on two schools, including their pilot project, Kevjumba High School, located six miles outside of Nairobi, Kenya. Here the organization tests out its innovative techniques, which it hopes to extend to around 100 schools by 2020. In a conversation earlier this week, President Will Cheon ’15 and Co-Vice Presidents Gabe Sullivan ‘15 and Sarah Yun ‘16 told The Hoot about the newly formed Brandeis chapter of this nonprofit.

The Supply addresses a problem that extends through all parts of the world. At least 1 billion people worldwide live in slums, and experts believe that this figure, if left unchecked, will triple by 2050. However, this future is not inevitable. Cheon pointed out that historically, many slums have become prosperous metropolises, such as in London. He ardently believes that addressing the root cause of inadequate education will bring hope to these communities. The organization has chosen to start its work in Kenya, a country where 65 percent of the population lives on less than a dollar a day. Their work is supported by over 20 high school and university chapters across the country, including local institutions such as Boston College, Boston University, and Northeastern University. While the chapters organize their own events individually, they often work through the national organization to collaborate on fundraisers.

One such event is “Chicken and Rice,” which the Brandeis chapter will be holding on October 4. This is a renowned dish from the streets of New York City that The Supply will sell to promote awareness of slum life, in partnership with “The Halal Guys” restaurant of Manhattan. This event will also be used as an opportunity to introduce The Supply to the Brandeis community, and to encourage students to come to the club’s first meeting.

At this stage, The Supply, like several other new clubs, cannot formally be recognized, as long as the Student Union is not in session. As the new Student Union has not yet been elected as of the writing of this article, the Supply is technically still in a state of limbo. Nevertheless, they have already obtained the required signatures to be recognized by the Union, and are waiting for the opportunity to present their documentation. It is already clear that the current active members are deeply committed to the cause.
Co-Vice President Yun already had a connection to The Supply. She grew up in the area where the nonprofit originated, and personally knows the founder. Previously involved in her high school’s chapter, she wants to continue on this path during her Brandeis career. She believes that this particular organization deserves commendation for giving students the chance to visit slums and get directly immersed in the environment. Cheon also has some prior experience, having been inspired by his best friend, the president of the Northeastern chapter. His belief in the importance of educational reform makes this cause truly meaningful for him. Sullivan only learned of the cause at Brandeis, but he felt motivated to get involved as soon as he heard about it from Cheon.

The club plans to debut through the “Chicken and Rice” fundraiser on Oct. 4, so the Brandeis community can expect to hear more about this event in the near future. At that point, there will be opportunities for anybody interested to get involved.