Move-In Day Mafia (MIDM), a non-profit organization that focuses on what under-served HBCU freshmen need to start their college career on move-in day at Prairie View A&M, Paul Quinn College, and Fisk University College, was founded by Hollywood veteran and Howard University alumni, TeeJ Mercer.
Move-In Day Mafia (MIDM), a program of Project Dreamlight 501(c)3, was established in 2022 and comprises a “mob” of volunteers who visit HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges & Universities) to offer dorm room makeovers and ongoing assistance – primarily for freshmen who have aged out of foster care, are homeless, or require more financial assistance.
While 70% of children in foster care are thought to have college as a goal, only 3% actually enroll and only 1% complete their degrees. Their success is impacted by a variety of factors, including unstable housing and little family support, which puts a heavy financial strain on them.
Determined to address the appalling graduation rate, founder of MIDM, award-winning TV Editor & Producer, TeeJ Mercer, said, “How can students focus, create, and thrive when they are worried about their basic human needs? I just want them to go to school and not have to work two or three jobs to take care of themselves. The only thing they should be concerned about is studying hard, partying, making memories, and ultimately graduating,” Black News reported.
The non-profit relocated 13 freshmen to Paul Quinn College in Dallas for its first year in 2022, with the aid of benefactors and their corporate partners – Trade & Travel, NJ Luke Publishing, and Nikki Klugh Design Group. The “family” is sponsoring three universities: Paul Quinn College (Dallas, TX), Prairie View A&M University (near Houston, TX), and Fisk University (Nashville, TN) for the next 2023–2024 academic year.
This year, the Move-In Day Mafia will provide assistance to almost 40 students at three HBCUs, including Fisk University, which was selected because of its distinguished history, the sheer number of students who stand to gain from the program, and the fact that Mercer is a native of Tennessee.
“We have to take care of this demographic of students because they are already beating the odds. And so, between all of those three things, it was a no-brainer that we were going to do Fisk University this year,” Mercer said to WSMV.
The students are provided with a fully furnished dorm room on move-in day, as well as a TV, refrigerator, and microwave (if not already provided by the school), artwork, school supplies, hygiene products, cleaning supplies, storage options, and much more.
“We want to ensure they stay focused on just being a student without having to worry about detergent, deodorant, and toothpaste,” Mercer noted.
Beyond helping students settle into their rooms, the organization also provides ongoing support for the duration of the academic year.