Students Start Nonprofit

Step On Poverty’s goal is to help businesses in developing countries develop their economies.


Michael Lin

Juniors Josiah Willis, Michael Lin and William Zhang collect shoes for Step On Poverty.

Annie Smuts, Entertainment Editor

Junior Michael Lin recently created the district-wide nonprofit Step On Poverty, which promotes beneficial economic practices in developing countries. In August 2016, Lin was approached by former Athens seniors to create the organization.

“We realized the potential of non-profit work and saw that [none] in Troy are tailored to the ability and skills of students,” Lin said.

Lin is the executive director and oversees the organization’s three initiatives: consulting, environmental and shoe. The first is focused on marketing for local businesses.

“We offer our free services to restaurants and business to help them branch out in our community,” sophomore Puja Kumar said. “In return we hope to gain a business relationship for future endeavors.”

They also hope to improve the local economy by developing businesses’ websites and their social media presence and solving problems. Two different groups are focused on Troy and Ann Arbor.

“We’re trying to make Troy more economically well by helping small businesses in our area,” chief marketing officer sophomore Tiffany Guo said.

The environmental initiative makes sure that businesses are using ethical environmental practices to come up with positive solutions and make an impact. A sound environment can ensure that businesses are able to be self-sustainable. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics, American consumers spent $400 billion at self-substainable companies in 2010.

Step On Poverty’s largest initiative is the shoe initiative. The goal is to send shoes collected from the Troy area to developing countries for businesses in the area to resell for low prices.

“Other shoe charities contributed to ‘economic dumping,’” Lin said. “While free shoes were given to people in underdeveloped countries, local businesses attempting to make and sell shoes were put out of business and people lost their jobs.”

As of early March, Step On Poverty collected 3,777 pairs of shoes, surpassing their original goal of 3,000 pairs. Now they hope to collect 9,000 pairs. On various occasions, the Troy High and Athens National Honor Societies, Project LEAD and Step On Poverty members have put up fliers at schools and at the Troy Public Library. They also went door to door asking for gently used shoes.

“We’re halfway there, and, since we’ve worked really hard, it has made us even more motivated,” Kumar said.

Recently, the organization welcomed new members and advertized at Troy schools to recruit students. Since putting up fliers in November, the organization welcomed eight new members from throughout the district.

“We hope to empower the youth, enact charitable acts with economic pragmatism and reveal the potential of non-profit organizations,” Lin said.

Other members are also working toward long term goals.

“I hope to obtain a board position on the main board of directors for this club in the coming year,” junior Cynthia Xiong said. “I’d like to help the club gain awareness and help it make a greater impact on our community.”

Step On Poverty now has more than two hundred likes on Facebook.

“Co-founding and running this organization has challenged the limits of what students and I can achieve, whether it’s impacting the community on a local or international level,” Lin said.