His goals in life: to eradicate homelessness and own an NBA team, the definition of dreaming big.
Jahkil Jackson, an 11-year-old Chicagoan, has helped over 20,000 homeless people with his “blessing bags” through his organization Project I Am.
He tells kids they don’t have to wait until they become adults to help people and to “dream big.”
Jackson has been recognized by former President Barack Obama, as a most influential person in 2017, and was also named a Youth Ambassador for Heartland Alliance in 2016, one of the world’s leading anti-poverty organizations.
When Obama tweeted about him, Jackson said, “I played it cool.” But when he was invited to a reception where Obama made a surprise visit, he said he was nervous.
“To know that someone like him knows my name, and supports what I do encourages me to keep moving forward every day,” he said in an interview.
Basketball star LeBron James has also recognized him and helped his efforts by promoting Project I Am. Jackson, who is a basketball player and fan, hopes to own his own NBA team one day.
Jackson started Project I Am at age 8. It was inspired by him wanting to help a homeless person that he saw at age 5.
“Seeing people on the street made me really sad because I thought everybody had homes,” Jackson said.
Then he asked his mom if they could buy houses for all the homeless people. While that wasn’t achievable at that time, he has since helped homeless people with toiletries, food, and water in Chicago, Los Angeles, Washington, DC, Atlanta, Virginia, and Idaho. He even has aided people internationally, as well as victims of natural disasters– orphans in Mbabane, Swaziland, volcano victims in Guatemala, and hurricane survivors in Florida, Houston, and Puerto Rico.
Studies show Blacks prefer to give back to causes they can most relate to in their communities, and that causes are related to disparities and societal inequities that greatly impact the Black community.
They also show engagement with Blacks with philanthropic dreams can actually increase donor funding, volunteer support, and leadership in nonprofit efforts.
“When I’m giving the bags to people it makes me feel like I’m getting one step closer to demolishing the whole homeless thing… and it makes me happy to see the smiles on their faces,” Jackson said.
And he’s not stopping anytime soon.
“There’s way more homeless people in the world that I could help, that I need to help.”