June 27, 2018

10-year-old philanthropist is going on tour this summer to inspire kids to be leaders

Catching up with the founder of Project I Am as he and a fellow youth leader hit the road on a coast-to-coast bus tour

Jahkil Naeem Jackson creates "blessing bags" for people in need in his Chicago community. Photo courtesy of Jahkil's family

It’s me Jahkil, the king of “blessing bags.” I’m back to let young people know that we are great today—we don’t have to wait until we are adults to make our mark on the world!

This past year has been amazing! I turned 10 and am headed to the 6th grade. I am still a basketball player, working my way to my dreams of playing professional basketball. I also still breakdance and tap dance, all while taking my organization Project I Am national. Project I Am has engaged hundreds of youth and has served thousands of people. I have been working hard to build awareness of homelessness. It is my goal to let everyone know that homeless people are people too.

I have met so many people, been so many places, and have learned so much. Since launching my organization a couple years ago, I have distributed over 9,000 blessing bags full of toiletry items to those in need in Chicago, as well as Los Angeles, and to orphans in Africa, volcano victims in Guatemala, and hurricane victims in Houston, Florida, and Puerto Rico. I have also been giving motivational speeches at events and graduations.

Last year ended with a bang when President Obama named me one of the three most influential people of 2017. Earlier this year, the Obama Foundation invited me to a private reception to meet President Obama—a day I will NEVER forget! This spring, Lebron James invited me to be a part of his #AlwaysBelieve campaign, an amazing experience! I believe all of this is happening because of my hard work and dedication. Everything is preparing me for my goal of owning an NBA team!

Last year I spoke on wanting to work with kids across the country, and this summer I am doing just that. I am partnering with Khloe Thompson, Founder of Khloe Kares in L.A. to do Project Kares, Coast 2 Coast, a nationwide leadership workshop and service tour. We will be visiting L.A., Las Vegas, Atlanta, New York, D.C., and Chicago. We will engage youth around being change agents and finding their voice. We are so excited! Catch us in your city July 7–15!

Editor’s note: We will feature more stories from Jahkil and Khloe as they travel the U.S. on their Project Kares tour. Follow The Renewal Project on Twitter @TheRenewalProj and subscribe to our newsletter, where we will include updates.

Jahkil Naeem Jackson

Jahkil Naeem Jackson is the founder of Project I Am, a Chicago-based nonprofit that helps homeless individuals.