Green trip may be in jeopardy

Members of the FAMU Green Coalition have unexpectedly found themselves needing money to make their trip to the Power Shift summit in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 27.

More than 10,000 college students from around the country are expected to attend this environmental summit FAMU wanted to participate in. 

Last Thursday, the coalition found out that it would receive a housing grant from the organizers of Power Shift rather than a transportation grant, as expected.

C.J. Gassam, 19, a freshman architecture student from Chesapeake, Va., and president of the coalition, said the housing grant came as a surprise to the organization.

“Initially, we found out we received a housing scholarship for 22 people, which was a large number of scholarships, so we got suspicious,” Gassam said. “We called the Energy Action Coalition, and they told us we would get housing instead of transportation, as we had requested.”

Because it did not receive the transportation grant, the organization will have to raise about $7,000 to make the trip. The unexpected expense has caused the coalition to rethink the trip to Power Shift.

“It’s sort of disheartening,” Gassam said. “At first, we were concerned with getting people to go, and now we have over 40. We took care of our end of the bargain, so it is kind of a letdown.”

LaRae Donnellan, adviser to the FAMU Green Coalition, is optimistic that despite the cost, she and the members of the coalition can raise the funds needed to make the trip.

“I believe in the importance of sending our students to Power Shift, so I’m not willing to give up yet. I’m just glad the students, too, aren’t willing to give up, either,” Donnellan said.

Power Shift organizers have said they would like to see the coalition attend the event as well. Mandy Hancock, the Southern Energy Network’s Florida campus organizer for Power Shift, is trying to help FAMU and FSU students make the trip.

“We are working hard to find other youth in Florida to fill the seats on the bus, as well as to locate more funding for the group by reaching out to other organizations that we are connected with,” Hancock said.

Hancock said she believes that the coalition’s attendance at the summit is vital, given that the group will represent an HBCU. 

“FAMU is one of the only HBCUs in Florida. It is imperative that, as we build this movement, we do whatever we can to include people from as many geographic, ethnic, experiential, cultural and class backgrounds as possible,” Hancock said.        

The coalition has a variety of fundraisers and is reaching out to alumni and the community in an effort to get FAMU students to Power Shift.

“We are doing a dollar raffle, and we are selling pizza and drinks to raise money,” Gassam said. “We are trying to reach out to people to see if they can sponsor students at $175 apiece.”