Move-In Day Mafia, Foster System, College, HBCU

Move-In Day Mafia Helps Kids In Foster System Settle Into College

The nonprofit was founded in 2022 to help HBCUs students from foster care backgrounds.

College move-in days can be a mixture of excitement and stress for incoming freshman. Thankfully, Move-in Day Mafia assists teens who aged out of foster care settle into school before class begins.

Teej Mercer started the nonprofit in 2022 with 13 dorm room makeovers at Paul Quinn College in Dallas. Its mission stemmed from her love and care for the youth, especially the many in her community that were accepted into HBCUs. However, Mercer noticed that students that came from foster care lacked the support to fully settle into their dorms.

“Move-in Day Mafia started in 2020 when I met a young college grad from an HBCU that had aged out of foster care,” explained Mercer to WSB-TV. “Her social worker drove her to campus, pulled up to the curb, let her unload what little she had and then bounced basically.”

Graduating from an HBCU herself, Mercer fulfilled a need for teens without the assistance to make each room their own. Focusing on HBCU students, Mercer and her squad of volunteers help supply and decorate each room for its new student. As the newly-established young adults begin their academic careers, the “mafia” seeks to show them that they have supporters along the way.

The Howard alum added, “I just couldn’t imagine someone who’s 18 going through that transition alone. So, I resolved that I was going to do something about it.”

For these students, the room symbolizes more than a typical dorm. One of the dorm designers explained that its a first for many scholars they’ve helped.

“We have a lot of students tell us that they’ve never even had their own room before. So, it’s really important that all the way down to the wallpapers, the headboards, their favorite colors, their inspirational quotes that they may like,” explained volunteer Mina Starks. “Those are just like the little bitty details we try to make sure that we execute in the rooms.”

However, the work does not stop once the dorms are completed. The mafia continues to provide monthly care packages to each student as they matriculate through school. As the mafia seeks to expand their efforts, more funding and volunteers remain crucial to their mission.

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