With almost 5.3 million views and 29,000 shares in about two weeks, a new video from Kleenex, featuring Fresno State’s Renaissance Scholars program, is gaining national attention. The video was featured on Inside Edition and the Huffington Post.
Renaissance Scholars is a program supporting students who were formerly in foster care or who were homeless.
Renaissance Scholars was chosen by Kleenex to be featured in its “Someone Needs One” campaign — a set of videos featuring people around the country helping others in need.
The online video features Renaissance Scholars alumnus and graduate assistant John Hunt Jr. sharing his experience of moving into his college dorm room alone and how that made him resolve to help others in similar circumstances.
Kleenex provided the students with items to help them transition into their new college homes. Such items included sheets, blankets, pillows, corkboards, toiletries and other dorm essentials. Volunteers were on hand to help students unpack their gifts and decorate their new spaces.
Renaissance Scholars was linked to Kleenex through a connection with Fresno State alumnus Kenyon Whitman, a former Renaissance Scholars student who is now director of a foster youth program at the University of California, Riverside. Whitman put Kleenex in touch with Kizzy Lopez, program coordinator for Renaissance Scholars.
“It is wonderful to know that this video is bringing awareness about college students who have experienced foster care or homelessness,” Lopez said. “I am just overwhelmed with the positive response.” Lopez said since the video was released many people in the community have asked about how they can help these students.
“The community can help by giving physical donations, things that students need, money or even volunteering to be a mentor,” she said.
Renaissance Scholars was established at Fresno State in 2008. More than 140 students have gone through the program that assists students from college entry to graduation with services that support the students’ academic, personal and financial needs.