Helping those in need

Christian McGhee is using his scholarship to solve youth homelessness.

Christian McGhee
Christian McGhee

When Christian McGhee was awarded the President’s Prize in 2018, it propelled his vision to help end youth homelessness.

McGhee’s plan is to create a nonprofit home in Columbus to help teenagers leaving correctional facilities transition to society in a positive way, by receiving support services that will help them find jobs and learn life skills. He hopes it can become a model transitional center for other cities throughout the nation.

McGhee’s project, named GROW (Getting Ready Opportunities & Work), is a prime example of the social change that the President’s Prize was created to spark. The prize is supported by donors and funding dedicated to advancing the Ohio State priorities set by university leadership.

“The President’s Prize allows people to make a difference,” said McGhee, a marketing major in Fisher College of Business. “I get to live my dream of doing this and seeing the difference in these kids’ lives. It’s going to be such an exciting journey.”

That journey began his junior year with an Honors Cohort project, where he dreamed up the idea for GROW. As his vision became clearer, McGhee was urged by Ty Shepfer, director of the Honors Cohort Program, to apply for the President’s Prize to kick-start the project’s first year.

“The President’s Prize is a conduit for us to operate as a nonprofit to get this home and get greater community support and resources so these kids can get help,” said McGhee, who will graduate in May and is working to garner support within the Columbus community to have a home donated to his cause.

Two President’s Prize winners are selected each year. Both receive a $50,000 living stipend and up to $50,000 in startup funding toward a project. In addition to the financial support, winners have continued access to faculty, mentors and other experts who can help guide the projects. During their time working on the project, winners also have opportunities to share their respective journeys with Ohio State’s alumni and partners.

 “When I won the President’s Prize, it was surreal and special because it was such a huge desire of mine,” McGhee said. “There’s nothing else I’d rather do. This is my dream, to be able to serve these kids and make a difference — it’s something that’s in my heart.”