Youngstown State University’s Bridges Out of Poverty Student Union is using grant money to expand their mission of helping financially stressed students in their college career.
The Raymond John Wean Foundation awarded the student group $3,000 last year. Another $500 is in the pipeline from the Community Foundation of Western PA and Eastern OH.
The money will provide the group’s “home base” in the Lincoln Building with office supplies, train administrators to aid students and offer networking opportunities.
“Now, it’s just a matter of … upgrading our vision — making it stronger, making it more solid and reaching out to students that sort of fall between the cracks,” said Deaudra Edgerson, president of BOPSU.
This year, the group has its sights on transportation for college students traveling from Trumbull County.
Edgerson said transportation is a shared problem among members of the student body.
“When we start talking about it, we realize, like, this is a common problem. It’s not just me; it’s actually quite a few students,” Edgerson said.
In March, the group submitted a proposal to the Northern Trumbull County Community Foundation, requesting funds for bus passes that the group would give to students.
On March 21, the foundation notified the group that it would receive a $500 grant.
The group hasn’t received the money yet, but once it is received, the group members plan to purchase 66 Western Reserve Transit Authority monthly bus passes for the entire year and give them to students in need of transportation.
“I have ridden buses before, and I know that having a pass would mean so much and just one less thing that a student would have to worry about,” said Rebecca Banks, secretary of BOPSU.
Banks added that many people take transportation for granted, but for those in need, a bus pass would be a great help. Even though the central aim is to provide bus passes to students from Trumbull County, James Martin, vice president of BOPSU and the proposal’s author, said that any student in need of transportation can receive a pass.
“Any student here at Youngstown State University that is in need of assistance for that, they can come to home base, and we [are] more than welcome [to] help them,” Martin said.
On April 16, the Bridges Out of Poverty Student Union will also be joining with the Mahoning Valley Organizing Collaborative and other area groups to present the documentary “The House That I Live In.” The documentary will discuss the impact of drugs on communities relating to poverty. The event will also involve a panel discussion. A location has not been determined yet.