Nonprofit promotes community comradery

Public Relations Manager Elizabeth Warner (left), co-founder Kwamayne King and Project Phileo co-founder Brandon Soto (right) play pool Wednesday at American Legion, 1204 S. Fourth St.

By Taher Zeitoun

DeKALB ­— Non-profit organization Project Phileo believes the key to promoting humanitarian aid through charity is by connecting like-minded individuals to work together in growing through empathy and common values. 
Project Phileo was created by senior psychology major Kwamayne King and partner Brandon Soto after discussing their aspirations.
 King said the idea was thought up after realizing how his passion for helping people merged perfectly with Soto’s drive to connect individuals through networking. 
King said the literal definition of Phileo describes what his organization is truly about.
“Phileo is the Greek translation of brotherly love, and for me, [Project Phileo] represents the desire to help people,” King said. “It’s through that brotherly love this organization can make a difference.”
Elizabeth Warner, first-year art major and Phileo public relations and social media manager, said one of the messages behind Project Phileo was born from the idea everyone in society is angry about something, and the best way to combat that is by coming together.

Warner said she was excited to come aboard after sitting down with Soto and hearing about his aspirations.

“We started talking about big ideas relating to networking and different ways to connect the little man to the big man,” Warner said. “This way, change can start happening within communities, especially for those who don’t have the financial stability to start throwing around money and make change happen themselves.”

Warner said Project Phileo’s mission revolves around creative problem solving, the fostering of compassion in individuals and connecting different people through networking.

She said she deals with the “people interaction” aspect of the group and helps set up potential partnerships with community groups. The American Legion in DeKalb, the first group Phileo partnered with, sponsored Project Phileo’s first official meeting Jan. 12.

Project Phileo’s first charity event is Feb. 16 at The House, 263 E. Lincoln Highway, and is an underground music festival featuring DeKalb artists and showcasing their talents.

King said the goal of the event is to help expose local artists and promote the featured community group. Conexion Comunidad, a nonprofit cultural center, will receive 50 percent of the proceeds gained from the charity event.

Warner said Soto developed a relationship with Conexion Comunidad because their mission aligned with the morals of Phileo. She also said due to the political climate, it was beneficial to focus on a cultural establishment like Conexion Comunidad.

King said one of the biggest benefits Project Phileo provides for the community and the university is the ability to bring everyone together to support a cause.

“We are all here for Conexion Comunidad and for these DeKalb artists, and if you promote that in your community, it’s going to get better,” King said.

“Just creating [a] dialogue [with] people talking about these events and non-profit organizations is a great thing to do.”

King and Warner are also students and both said they understand the importance of connecting with the university. King is also a member of the NIU Veterans Association and said he is currently developing a potential relationship between them and Project Phileo. He said connecting with the university and its organizations is important in gaining an entrance to reach the students.

Warner said she has been talking to greek-life communities and realizes the plethora of benefits in partnering with the younger generation.

“Throughout history, it has been universities that come up with groundbreaking ideas like this,” Warner said. “When we get that many young minds together, there is so much potential because everybody has ideas, and everybody wants to change things.”

Warner said the ultimate goal of Project Phileo is to have sub-groups focusing on a variety of specific projects, while still having a solid, established network connecting everyone. She said this spider-web structure would allow for greater potential.

Warner said in regards to future partnerships, a similar non-profit in San Francisco has reached out to Project Phileo, and they are also talking to Common Grounds about renting their building to conduct charity events.

Kristina Garcia, Conexion Comunidad board member, said her organization is very honored to be the donation recipient of Project Phileo’s first event. She said she has known Soto for a couple of years and is very optimistic regarding his new organization.

Garcia said she believes having a established group like Project Phileo can provide advantages for all cultural communities.

“It`s nice to see more leadership taken on by not just minorities, but also by different diverse groups of individuals in our community,” Garcia said.