Small UT groups raise money during Black Lives Matter movement

Hannah Ortega

Despite having about 30 active members, the UT Pre-Optometry Professional Society wanted to support the Black Lives Matter movement, and raised $1,448 for two organizations in just nine days.

The group put out a statement on Instagram, asked for donations to their official Venmo and created a donation bingo, where people could give the amount of money on a certain spot. The society raised $948 from donors and $500 from donation matching, society treasurer Gina Liles said.

“We are a very diverse group of people from really all walks of life,” biology junior Liles said. “From personal experiences with race discrimination as minorities and as people who empathize with minorities, we thought it would be a really good stance to just support our Black brothers and sisters.”

The society is just one of several small campus groups currently fundraising and spreading information and resources during the Black Lives Matter movement. Texas Wushu, a martial arts recreational sports organization at UT, also used their social media platforms to show support for the movement.

“We figured that we do have some audience of the Asian American community, and it's important to voice our support for the Black Lives Matter movement and stand in solidarity with them, and in a tangible way as well,”  said Rosie Khan, Texas Wushu vice president .

Khan said club members set a pledge of up to $175, and decided to match donations from their social media followers. The group has raised about $92 so far, Khan said, but if they achieve their goal of $175 and then match that total, they could donate $350 to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, their chosen organization.

“We chose (the fund) because we wanted to pick a reputable, national-level organization, but we were aware that some national-level organizations are not as effective or as accountable as grassroots organizations,” said Khan, a Plan II, economics, government and international relations and global studies junior. “We thought that the NAACP has a good track history of winning very landmark court cases.”

Grandioso, a clothing brand with a three-person team of two UT-Austin students and one UT-Dallas student, released two new hats with all sales profits going to the Austin Justice Coalition. On Saturday, the company donated $270 to the coalition from hat sales, additional donations from friends and donation matching.

“So many institutions … work against the Black community, so I feel like it's part of our duty as a business to be an institution that works to empower and help these people,” said Aly Hirani, co-CEO of Grandioso and mechanical engineering sophomore.

Co-CEO Jorge Villa Rangel said justice and togetherness are crucial during this time, and helped inspire his fundraising efforts.

“It’s 2020 … it shouldn't be like this anymore,” psychology sophomore Villa Rangel said. “It's super sad to me that there's still people out there who don't believe in Black Lives Matter or the movement itself. That's why I was super empowered by what other people were doing, and I was like, ‘Yeah, we have to donate money. We need to help the organization with money so that they can do a good thing for Austin.’”