Note: This article is a part of the ASU Foundation's ongoing work to celebrate Black Philanthropy at ASU.
At the age of 21, Atllas Hopkins, the founder of SEED Philanthropy, is on a mission to positively impact his community and share the importance of giving back to his peers.
SEED Philanthropy, an all-Black youth philanthropy group, was created for young Black students looking to support their communities in meaningful ways. On its opening night, SEED raised $24,000 thanks to donations from members of the community.
Hopkins is currently a senior at Arizona State University, majoring in architectural studies at the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, with a minor in business.
Here, Hopkins describes what inspired him to establish SEED Philanthropy and what it’s like to be a student philanthropist.
Question: When did you first realize it was important to give back?
Answer: The importance of giving back was always a value that was instilled in me by my family. Since I can remember, we would always give out turkeys for Thanksgiving to the homeless. As I matured and saw injustices within the world and my own community, I felt a calling to use my influence, power and potential to change those issues. Giving back was a part of how I was raised and stems from my personal life experiences.
Q: What is SEED Philanthropy?
A: SEED stands for Students Engaged in Ethical Donations. We do a slew of community service, volunteer work and host community events. We mainly do a lot of fundraising and grant-giving to other student-led or student-based nonprofits throughout the Valley. We have only been around for a year and a half.
Q: What causes does SEED Philanthropy support?
A: Our primary focus is youth development. We want to invest in our community, and we recognize that the best way to do that is through the young people in the community. You can impact a kid and leave an imprint on them about giving back and what it means to give back. Eventually, he will grow up with a philanthropic mindset. He’ll teach someone, and that person will teach someone. It's a trickle-down effect.
Q: How did you raise $24,000 on your opening night?
A: We managed to raise $24,000 on our opening night due to the sheer belief and overwhelming support from our community. We hosted an event announcing our official launch where we invited family members, business partners and other people linked to our cause and gave a formal introduction about who we are and our end goal. At the end of the night, we had a section in our program asking for donations, and immediately people were basically throwing money our way. It was a truly powerful experience and reminded us how much potential we have to impact our community and the amount of faith we have from the people supporting us.
Q: Your organization is tailored specifically for Black youth to participate in philanthropy. Why is that an important cause for you?
A: It’s an important cause for youth in general, but it’s really important for us because when I started SEED, it was a catalyst for the George Floyd situation in the summer of 2020. As Black people in the community, we are a marginalized race for the most part. It’s important to come together and build camaraderie amongst each other to build those extra connections, whether it's through business or community. We need to band together and achieve a common goal for the betterment of our people.
Q: How do you balance student life with your philanthropic work?
A: It isn't easy. What helps keep me in order is the simple understanding that I have responsibilities as a student and the founder of SEED Philanthropy. I have things to do day in and day out, and there are people who rely on me to accomplish these things. It can be a struggle balancing everything, but one of the main things that helps me is understanding that there is a deeper purpose behind all I do.
Q: What is the impact of your organization that you have seen so far?
A: With our first grant cycle, where we gave out our first significant donations, two of the nonprofits that we granted money to, it was the first grant that they had received. Before us, they had received no extra funding besides what they had built off their own resources. We had a promotional video where you could see them talking and tearing up about it. Five thousand dollars is a lot of money for a local nonprofit. Outside of that, we are currently in the midst of our back-to-school drive. Last year we did a back-to-school supply drive, raised over 500 school supplies and supplied over 15 classrooms with school supplies. This year, we are doing a hygiene drive for the Boys Hope, Girls Hope Foundation and the Wilson School District. So far, we are only in our second week of the hygiene drive and already have over 600 hygiene supplies. Being able to give back in tangible ways has greatly impacted me.
Q: Where do you see SEED Philanthropy in five years?
A: In five to 10 years, I see us having at least one chapter outside of Arizona. Above expansion, I hope we are still around, we’re still prominent and still able to make an impact. With an organization like this, it's tough to teach philanthropy to college students my age who may live in a world of glamour and showing off and aren't familiar with giving to others without expecting anything back. I want to see SEED have longevity and stick around.
Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?
A: I would spend that on the housing crisis. One of my main motivations for doing architecture is I want to fix the structure around affordable housing. I would love to invest in shelters and reimagine the idea of affordable community housing.
Written by Roxanne Banuelos.
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