'America to Me' star seeks help with tuition

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By Nona Tepper

Jada Buford, one of the students featured in the America to Me television series on Starz last fall, is fundraising to cover the tuition for her senior year at Howard University, where the aspiring filmmaker currently carries a 3.75 GPA. America to Me was a 10-part TV series that highlighted the challenges of achieving racial equity at Oak Park and River Forest High School.

Buford said the experience of appearing on the show inspired her to "find my own voice in storytelling." During the series, Buford was famous for creating informative videos for her classmates that highlighted the racism she experienced as a young black woman. She has continued the work in college — "Over the past year, I've been granted the opportunity to participate in the national dialogue about racial equity in education," she wrote on the GoFundMe page — and has also served as a writer, director, producer and production assistant while in school.

"As a filmmaker, my goal is to create content with a focus on social issues that will educate and inspire audiences," Buford wrote.  

She aims to finish her bachelor's degree at Howard — her "dream school" — but needs about $6,100 to cover the cost of tuition for her final year. She started a GoFundMe titled, "Help Jada Continue Her Studies at Howard," located at https://bit.ly/2JX2C0b, about a month ago and already has raised more than $2,300, with several donations coming from others featured in the show, including Chala Holland, Jessica Stovall and Steve James.

But Buford still needs about $4,000 before she can register for classes to finish out her senior year. Her deadline to receive funds is May 25, although she is negotiating with Howard's Bursar's Office for an extension, so she can complete her degree and go on to making films that highlight social injustice.

"I aim to spark dialogue in hopes of creating change," Buford wrote. "I would greatly appreciate any amount you can contribute to help further my studies at Howard University." 

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