Students Helping Students

By Karli Thode, Communication Intern The Office of Innovation Creativity and Entrepreneurship

Meet Senior Philosophy major, Bill Zandi, a budding social entrepreneur who has brought non-profit organization, Students Helping Students, to Wake Forest campus. Students Helping Students is a non-profit organization that strives to help eliminate the disparity in educational institutions across the United States through the reallocation of unwanted, gently-used furnishings, books, and supplies from wealthy to impoverished schools.

The initial idea for this non-profit first came to fruition in the fall of 2005 in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Just as the natural disaster had hit, Zandi’s Pennsylvania high school, Great Valley High School, was coincidentally undergoing a huge renovation. The local school was looking to dispose of gently-used school supplies, furnishings, and text books. Zandi saw a tremendous opportunity in this and quickly began fundraising in order to contribute to the relief efforts of Hurricane Katrina. His hard work and fundraising efforts certainly paid off, as the necessary funding was soon acquired to send two tractor-trailers filled with educational furnishings and supplies to schools that had been impacted by the tragedy. Zandi received incredible feedback for the lasting impact of their efforts, and thus, the idea of Students Helping Students was born.

Since then, Students Helping Students has made tremendous strides, further defining and developing its purpose as a non-profit organization. Back in August, 2013, Quality Education Academy (a K-12 Winston-Salem charter school), hosted a book fair that was sponsored by Students Helping Students. The goal was to redistribute roughly 4,000 books that had been donated to SHS by wealthy educational institutions in the Philadelphia area. Attendees included numerous teachers and administrators from various elementary, middle, and high schools within Forsyth County. Another important objective of the book fairs is the inclusion of the community. “This is essential to our main goal to promote awareness of the growing problem of inequality within our educational system,” remarked Zandi on the success of the event.

The organization currently has 10,000 educational books and other classroom materials in inventory, and Zandi has expressed that they are actively working toward hosting a book fair for the Philadelphia School District. “All of the schools in the Philadelphia School District are low-income, and more than one-third of the district’s children live below the poverty line. We believe it is imperative that the School District of Philadelphia receives some sort of relief,” explains Zandi. In addition to serving the Philadelphia School District, SHS is also beginning to sponsor the establishment of SHS clubs throughout various high schools across the country.  Zandi hopes that each club will act as an independent cell that can pursue all activities already initiated by SHS. In simpler terms, SHS clubs across the country will have the opportunity to establish their own centralized form of leadership, while striving to achieve various goals that will be stipulated by SHS.

We look forward to tracking the progress of Students Helping Students as it continues to pave the way to education reform. You can follow along with Bill Zandi and his education relief efforts here