Matine Khalighi

Massachusetts, USA

Matine  Khalighi

Matine’s interest in helping others began in middle school, when he enrolled in a community service class that asked him to research a social issue and get involved in improving it. As a result, he learned all about young people who had become homeless, and found himself moved by their many different stories. At the age of 14, Matine co-founded the Helping the Homeless Colorado nonprofit, which provided basic necessities to people experiencing homelessness. As he continued to learn more about the US homelessness problem and its causes during high school, he was shocked to learn that over 1.5 million students across the country were now experiencing homelessness, and his desire to find real solutions grew. 

Today, Matine is the Executive Director of EEqual, a for-youth, by-youth nonprofit working to overcome homelessness through education and advocacy. EEqual believes in the power of education to overcome student homelessness: higher education is linked to increased job access, reduced crime rates and improved household health, so denying access to higher education for students experiencing homelessness only helps foster a vicious cycle of generational poverty. The aim of EEqual’s Scholarship Awards Program is to keep disadvantaged students on track to reach their higher education goals, whether that means trade/vocational school, two-year college or four-year college. Every student is paired with a college-aged mentor who is not only dedicated to supporting them academically but also helps with finding resources, deciding career paths, or just providing advice. 

With thought-provoking content, EEqual also encourages social media conversations among Generation Z about the taboo topics of student poverty and homelessness, highlighting the lived experiences of its students. To date, EEqual has given over $30,000 in scholarships to students in need and reached over 120,000 people through social awareness efforts. EEqual also engages hundreds of young students across the nation through a rapidly expanding chapter network, which allows student leaders to connect with their peers and create focused, localized impact in their own communities.  

Matine’s work has been featured by People magazine, 5280 magazine, Medium, ThriveGlobal and ABC News. He is now a three-time winner of the President's Volunteer Service Award, a TEDx Speaker, an Ashoka Young Change maker, and a Young Heroes Award winner. If he wins the Global Student Prize, he will use the funding to expand EEqual’s strategic goals: over the next three years, EEqual will aim to expand to 50+ campus chapters nationwide, expand the reach of its social awareness campaigns, and grow the Scholarship Awards Program to support hundreds of students throughout the entirety of their educational careers.