Jaraad Hines founded Hinesight in May 2017, just two weeks after he earned his B.S. in marketing. Today the Fredericksburg nonprofit has already garnered acclaim for its important mission: ending generational poverty through family empowerment.
Hinesight’s mentoring program boasts a number of enthusiastic student/role model participants. Its parent education program is well underway, with several dozen families already on the waiting list. Its third component, the community service program, is poised to launch this summer. In December, the mayor of Fredericksburg attended Hinesight’s ribbon-cutting ceremony, and the next day, the nonprofit was featured in a front-page article in the local newspaper.
Hines attributes this success to his passion, education, and mentor, Shannon Duvall. Duvall is Chief Development Officer for the School of Business. She first met Hines in the spring of 2017 and has remained his enthusiastic supporter ever since.
Duvall: “It became apparent very quickly he is really following his passion. Jaraad is an incredibly poised young man, mature beyond his years. He is doing this because he truly wants to have an impact, to break the cycle of poverty.”
Hines: “There is a classic saying that kids are our future. I can testify to that. My parents invested in me and my siblings, so we can go further than they did. I want to build on the things they have done. I want to make a difference.”
Hines’ father grew up in segregated Detroit, in a family with 14 kids squeezed into a small house. His mother grew up in a housing project in Queens, New York. But they had a support system and strong relationships. “They were rich in other areas,” says Hines. “There is nothing special about us as a family. Any family can do it.”
Consequently, Hinesight is based on the premise that poverty isn’t defined simply by lack of income, but by lack of physical, emotional, social and spiritual resources.
Duvall: “Jaraad was very smart to get a VCU business degree. While passion is important, that’s not enough for a successful nonprofit. You need a realistic business plan. And we do have a tremendous network of alumni he’s able to tap into.”
Hines: “I started out in economics, but that wasn’t a good fit. Marketing matched a lot more of my personality and values. It’s creative, but it’s still a business discipline. I loved how it interwove human behavior with business decisions.”
Hines remembers his favorite classes at VCU as consumer behavior and marketing research, both of which have stood him in good stead. “For instance,” he says, “there’s a lot of research out there that says community service has a huge impact on an individual’s well-being. The whole point is for the families we have been helping, to then help equip them to start to serve the communities they live in and then other communities around the world.”
Doing an actual marketing plan for a Richmond nonprofit while he was still a student is an experience Hines remembers as “transformative.” So, he concludes, “I just think that business students should care. I am very blessed. I used my skills and education for a purpose. Remember there’s more to life and business than just making money. But that doesn’t mean you have to work for a nonprofit. You can make money and make a difference too.”
Duvall: “He came to me and said I know what I want to do when I graduate, but I am not sure how to accomplish it. Our values align; that’s why I stay involved. He’s actually doing it, not just talking about it.”
Hines: “Shannon’s advice was to go for it. Coming from a professional who said how much she believed in me, that meant the world. Shannon is awesome. She’s one of the greatest mentors ever.”
Hines says the mentorship relationship is obvious because what he does is “kind of similar to what Shannon does in development. Your main source of income is support through grants and unrestricted donations. You have to work harder, smarter to develop your revenue streams.”
And there are always new issues to tackle. Before the holidays, Hines and Duvall met for a long discussion about the pros and cons of a nonprofit advisory board. Within months, Hines had put together a three-person Board of Directors and hired an administrative director. They are already talking about expanding Hinesight to surrounding counties and working with Hope Worldwide on service projects outside the U.S.
“We’re eating up our goals and pretty confident going forth,” says Hines.
“I don’t know what his next issue will be,” grins Duvall. “But whatever it is, it would take most nonprofits ten years to accomplish, whereas he’ll do it in five.”