As co-founder and president of End the Cycle, EdMinor Rija Awan helps organization address inequality in Ann Arbor schools

April 19, 2023

The student organization raised $5,000 during winter semester to pay off school lunch debt at two local elementary schools.

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Marsal School EdMinor Rija Awan tells The Michigan Daily that End the Cycle was founded in 2020 to address the impact of homelessness on students, though the student organization has since expanded to helping underserved students from a greater variety of backgrounds.

This semester, through a combination of grants, social media campaigns, and sticker sales, End The Cycle raised $5,000 to completely pay off school lunch debt at Carpenter and Allen Elementary Schools. 

“We knew that we needed support early on, and if we could get grants, then we can get a push towards the goal immediately,” Awan told The Daily. “We won the TEDxUofM grant, which was super big for us. … We got to speak on stage for that, and that allowed us to get a ton of awareness about the project, and we got lots of donations from that. We also won the U-M Medical School’s Galens Medical Society grant.”

Awan says End the Cycle’s food insecurity committee intends to continue working with schools to eliminate childhood food insecurity in Ann Arbor.

“We’re not done,” Awan said. “We know (the donation) is not addressing the root cause of food insecurity. … Some next steps would be establishing food pantries in (local) schools, and we want to work to create a database online where people can see the schools that need the most help in eliminating that lunch debt so that they can donate directly.”