In America, one student drops out of high school every 26 seconds, according to the America’s Promise Alliance.
David Merritt, a University alum and former captain of the University’s basketball team, took these cold statistics to heart when he founded Merit Goodness, Inc., a cause-based clothing line that donates 20 percent of its revenue to help create scholarships for high-school students at the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy.
The corporation itself has two facets: Merit, the actual clothing line, and FATE, which deals with donations as well as a mentorship and outreach program for students at Jalen Rose.
Merritt, who has always been passionate about education, especially in urban areas, said he wants to serve as a catalyst to the improvement of the city’s education system.
“My dad has been a pastor in the city of Detroit for the last 35 years, and I’ve always grown up with a big heart for young people,” Merritt said.
The high-school students who are interested in the mentorship program are assigned to a University student mentor and promised a $5,000 scholarship when they graduate.
Merritt said the “big idea” is to bring awareness to education. By incorporating fashion to accomplish this, Merit is able to commercialize its mission and promote a greater understanding of the students who will benefit from the program.
“I had always wanted to present light to the broken-down school system and do whatever we can to provide more avenues for young people to get involved in things that bring light to the city,” Meritt said.
LSA sophomore Julie Sarne mentors high-school students through the organization and also supports the clothing line. She said in just the past year the brand name has become more popular on campus.
“I think it’s starting to become something recognizable on campus, which is really exciting,” Sarne said. “It’s good fashion for a really great cause.”
Merritt said he is looking forward to creating a larger presence at the University as a result of the the South University Avenue store.
“We have the opportunity to take it a step further and have our very own storefront that will not only put our product in front of students, but also put forth the message and the impact that the product purchases are making,” Merritt said.