As religious ethics fight to stay alive many faithful followers continue planting their sacred seeds throughout humanity. While the seeds may hold the same neighborly values, the soil that nourishes them often differs from person to person. For Nitiya Walker, founder and executive director of the non-profit organization Seeds of Fortune Inc., her seeds bloom from the rich soil of financial and educational empowerment.
At Seeds of Fortune Inc., maintaining a national scholars and ed-tech platform for young, marginalized women takes priority. This platform allows them to gain financial and educational resources. From working with young women as they navigate the college admissions and scholarship processes to training them on financial literacy, the organization fights to address the economic hardships of non-white students. This fight entails helping young women from disadvantaged communities find affordable post-secondary options, most often college, and teaching them career and financial management skills.
“With Seeds, I wanted to help the girls get college scholarships, but I also wanted to use it as a fundamental way to teach them about financial management,” Walker said. “Since slavery, education has been a way for us to have social-economic mobility. But now that student loan debt is so high: education has reverse effects. It is the American dream to go to college, graduate, and get a job, but that’s not necessarily the smooth sailing system that’s happening for minority students. By the time you get out, you almost have a mortgage load of debt that you have to pay back. Which then delays their ability to start investing money, purchasing homes and starting businesses like they would want to, to create their own economic wealth.”
Walker started her non-profit organization in 2014 as a senior at Babson College. As a Black undergraduate student, the New York native faced her own financial struggles while on the path to obtaining a college degree. “Trying to afford college at the time when I was trying to go was difficult. There was no way that my parents could afford for me to go to college with the price tags that were around then,” Walker said. Fortunately for Walker, she received the help of a Girl Scout leader at her church in Brooklyn, NY. “She worked with me for five to six weeks in the Brooklyn Public Library, teaching me techniques on how to position myself for college applications and scholarships,” Walker said. With the trooper’s help, Walker obtained enough money in scholarships to afford college.
Although her financial success empowered her, disappointment quickly followed behind. “When I got to undergrad, I realized that everyone did not have this information on how to secure scholarships for colleges,” Walker said. “I found that a lot of time, for us, as students of color on campus, there was not a lot of financial information distributed to us. This information was just not communicated.” This realization led Walker down the path of her current mission to break financial barriers for non-white women in education.
What started in the Brooklyn Public library with just three girls now encompasses 1000 members, over $15 million in scholarships and grants and a 100% graduate rate for those that stay in the Seed’s programs.
Yet, the work of the Seeds doesn’t end at financial issues. The non-profit also aid their members in establishing a fruitful bond amongst each other. “I like Seeds because I get to meet new people, which is amazing,” Seeds member Jasmin Turkson said on a live stream with Walker. We’d be in the Bootcamp and, we’d just be talking about our high school experiences and it was just genuine. Genuine friendships. Genuine sisterhood.”
Jasmin, who learned about the Seeds of Fortune organization from a friend’s social media page, now holds the title of a proud member. “I was looking for a program that would help me get money for college. So, when I saw the post, I was like, this looks interesting. I have to get on it. I have to apply,” Jasmin said. Fortunately for her, she found the Seeds and planted herself into their rich resources.
Although Jasmin’s search ended, for countless other young non-white women, the search for financial freedom proceeds. Likewise, those at Seeds of Fortune Inc. continue to make space to help them. “We’re looking to help more women of color in New York and across the U.S.,” Walker said.
Recently, the organization expanded its financial aid and scholarship opportunities in partnerships with nine colleges and universities including: Claremont Mckenna College, Pitzer College, Occidental College, George Washington University, University of Notre Dame, Babson College, Antioch College, Lasell University and Goddard College. Through this expansion, Seeds can offer more educational and economic opportunities to young non-white women scholars.
For more information about the Seeds of Fortune organization, to become a Seed, or connect with Nitiya Walker: Visit www.seedsoffortune.org Email: firstname.lastname@example.org