Student starts nonprofit with a mission

Photo of Shayna Vincent
Courtesy: Vincent

Shayna Vincent refuses to accept the status quo.

A 23-year-old elementary education student at Florida A&M, Vincent has created a nonprofit organization, Esther Funds Foundations, to address the pressing needs of first-generation, low-income, and minority college students.

 Driven by a deep desire to make a positive impact, the Tampa native recognized the importance of taking action rather than waiting for change to happen. 

“Our mission came about because I saw how low-income students were dropping out of college because they didn’t feel supported and didn’t have the finances to be in college,” Vincent said. 

 Zaria Slaughter, a junior public relations student and vice president of Esther Funders, enjoys working alongside Vincent. “I believe Shayna is a powerful leader. I believe she is easygoing and someone you would want advocating for you,” Slaughter said. 

 Esther Funds Foundation empowers individuals and communities through various initiatives, from school supply drives to scholarships and more. On Feb. 2, the organization gave away more than 200 school supplies in Coleman Library. 

“So far, things are going pretty well. Our volunteers assist us at community service events, and we have relationships with the community and leaders such as Senator Darryl Rouson and Shevrin Jones,” Vincent said.

 One of the key objectives of Esther Funds is to prevent early dropouts. Recognizing the transformative power of education, the foundation has opened the Don’t Count Me Out Scholarship on its website (, giving local college students a chance to receive $500. The priority deadline for this opportunity is Feb. 21.

 Slaughter lets students know to stay on the lookout. “Students should look forward to more partnerships and opportunities,” Slaughter said. ‘I’m also looking forward to us expanding to other parts of Florida and the U.S.”

 When asked what inspired the foundation’s name, Vincent said, “Esther is a woman in the Bible; she helped the people in her community and saved them from being killed. She was a woman who walked with God and was very patient.”

 The FAMU community has rallied behind Vincent and her nonprofit organization, with many students and faculty members expressing their admiration and support. The university has recognized the organization and its mission by reposting some of its initiatives.

 As Vincent continues to make strides in her efforts to uplift the local community, their story serves as a reminder that age is no barrier to making a difference. Through determination, passion and a commitment to social change, this FAMU student proves that actions can create a ripple effect of positive transformation.

 Torian Johnson, a senior architecture major and social media manager for Esther Funds, spoke about his experience.

“Esther Funds has furthered my leadership skills and allowed me to interact positively within the Tallahassee community,” he said.

 In a world that often seems filled with challenges, Vincent and the Esther Fund are a beacon of hope, inspiring others to take action and create change. 

 “For those wanting to start a nonprofit, my great advice is to do it from the heart and not for others. When you give, make sure your heart is completely in it. Not everyone is going to believe in your mission and vision; people are going to try and tell you it’s not for you or maybe you should be doing something different, but if God puts that vision in your heart, then keep going. Esther Funds is God’s organization,” Vincent said.

“He gave me that vision, and that’s why it’s been so successful ever since,” she added.