The non-profit organization gives scholarships to students heading to universities, community colleges, and trade schools.
By Ariyana Griffin
Nicole “Neekko” Lindsey is the founder of Education is Key, a 501(c) (3) who raises money to provide scholarships for students in Los Angeles.
Growing up, Lindsey moved around a lot but she always stayed rooted in the Los Angeles area. Experiencing many adversities while she was younger, such as government assistance, welfare, and financial struggle, she did not let that stop her from being a first generation college student. After graduated from Wilson High School, she attended UC Santa Barbara.
“I was able and privileged enough to go to college due to my grades and my mom finding resources for me to utilize to be able to go, as well as scholarships,” she said.
While maneuvering through the process of going to college and graduating, Lindsey knew that she wanted to go back and help other inner city students who were trying to further their education as well.
While in college, Lindsey had the idea to start a nonprofit, but she thought that “it would be called G.H.E.T.T.O. which is my other brand that stems from my grandmother who created the acronym, ‘Guys and Girls Have Enough Talent To Overcome,’” she said. All proceeds from her brand go to her nonprofit, Education is Key.
Lindsey decided to separate the two and curate Education is Key in 2018. The main goal is to give scholarships to the youth, but she also wants to be a resource to the community. She hopes to open a community center to be a resource for the community and the youth.
Lindsey holds fundraisers throughout the year to raise money such as her annual campaign. The last five months consisted of her “pushing out content to promote the organization and the fundraising opportunities to donate,” she said.
Lindsey also collects donations year-round, attends community events to speak about her nonprofit to get the word about the mission and fundraising, as well as partners with local Black-owned businesses to fundraise through them. Social media and word of mouth have been vital to help raise the money for the scholarships as well.
This scholarship organization is unique, because unlike others, students do not need to meet a certain GPA requirement. To become eligible, students need to have documentation that they have been accepted to a university, state college, community college, or a trade school. The application is open to high school seniors or college undergrads, and it is highly preferred that they are from the the inner city.
“As long as you are applying yourself and pursuing an education or an opportunity, and you follow through that is all I look for,” Lindsey said. “Grades do not always determine if someone is worthy of something.”
To date, Education is Key has provided 18 scholarships in total.
“It is important for inner city students to have this opportunity because we tend to count ourselves out due to the circumstances of being from the inner city, growing up in strife and adversity without the proper access to resources,” Lindsey said.
Lindsey expressed how vital it is for people to come back and pour into the communities that people have made it out of because they know how difficult it is to make it out.
“It is important if you are privileged enough or blessed enough to make it out the hood that you share those opportunities that you have been able to utilize to advance your position in society,” she said.
There is so much power and hope that can be infused in others just by sharing experiences and showing them that it can be done.
Lindsey is working on an Education is Key documentary that will be premiering in 2021. For more information and to donate to the cause, visit www.eduiskey.org and follow them on Instagram at @Education_is_Key.