HBCU dropout partners with GoFundMe to support HBCU students

His dedication caught the attention of GoFundMe staffers in 2020 after he raised more than $100,000.

Hassan Abdus-Sabur is a Howard University dropout who has spent the past two years raising money for students to attend historically black colleges and universities. 

The Washington Post reported that he decided to pay it forward through his nonprofit, the “HBCU Scholarship Bike Ride.” His most recent GoFundMe has raised more than $64,000 of a $50,000 goal.

The 48-year-old embarked on this journey years after financial and other personal challenges forced him to drop out of the Washington, D.C.-based university during his first two years. “I could blame it on finances,” he told The Post. “But I could have gotten a job, I could have stayed in D.C., I could have finished out the time I had left.”

A Howard University dropout has spent the past two years raising money for students to attend historically black colleges and universities. (Photo by Kate Patterson for The Washington Post via Getty Images)

At age 19, Abdus-Sabur moved back in with his parents, got a job and ultimately had a child. He now works for a Newark, New Jersey city council member and often ponders what his life could have been like had he stuck it out at Howard and graduated from the same HBCU as Vice President Harris and Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka.

“I don’t get to wear the Howard alumni hat,” Abdus-Sabur said. “I can wear the Howard shirt, but I can’t wear the Howard alumni hat. That’s such a bitter pill because I love that place. It gave me so much, just in the time I was there.”

That is the line of thinking that in 2020 motivated Abdus-Sabur to turn his lost opportunity into a major win for college-bound students. His dedication caught the attention of GoFundMe staffers after he raised more than $100,000. The company named him a GoFundMe Hero and is currently collaborating with Abdus-Sabur on an initiative that offers HBCU students textbook grants worth $500 each. As of Monday, the fundraiser has garnered more than $26,000 toward a $75,000 goal. 

The textbook grants are part of the company’s GoFindYou initiative, which is described as “a place to celebrate stories of Black joy often overlooked,” according to The Post.

“We see a lot of stories of Black joy that get overshadowed by grief and trauma,” GoFundMe communications director Leigh Lehman said. 

The GoFindYou initiative not only aims to raise money to “fund the next generation of HBCU scholars,” but also to help Black and Brown people start small businesses. Lehman disclosed that the company is working to entice potential donors to contribute to the effort. “We want it to live on in perpetuity,” she said.

Abdus-Sabur started his pay-it-forward journey when he learned that the niece of one of his former college classmates needed help covering her Howard tuition. He wanted to help her reach an $18,000 GoFundMe goal, so he teamed up with four of his friends to bike ride from Newark to Howard.

The group was dubbed “Bike for Marbella” and together they raised about $7,000, which — when combined with the money she raised on the platform — allowed Marbella to attend the HBCU.

Marbella graduated. Two other beneficiaries of Abdus-Sabur’s generosity are scheduled to graduate in 2024. Inspiration struck and he returned to school and will graduate from Rutgers University this year. 

“You can’t tell children to do something, and you’re not doing it,” Abdus-Sabur said.

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