From working in a factory to Columbia University

See the most recent article written on CJ's journey in the Philadelphia Inquirer .

My name is Jocie Dye & I am a mother and an accountant in Philadelphia. A little more than a year ago, I had the privilege of meeting an extraordinary family dealing with the unimaginable circumstances of taking Sanctuary to keep their family together. Clive & Oneita Thompson sought Sanctuary from deportation when they were given one week to leave this country, after living, working and paying taxes legally for 16 years and raising five beautiful children here, two U.S. born citizens. Clive & Oneita have already sent their two oldest children through college without the assistance of Federal or state financial aid because those young people were DACA recipients. Now, as the Thompson's still seek safety in Sanctuary, their middle child, Clive Jr. (CJ), has been accepted to Columbia University to pursue his studies in film. He still has no access to financial aid, two parents who cannot work while in Sanctuary (despite both being essential workers & wanting/asking to work), and loss of his own income due to COVID-19. CJ has a lot of money to raise to make this dream a reality and I am asking you to look into your hearts and please help in any way you can. Any amount is welcome and we ask that you please share CJ's story widely.

Our local public news source, WHYY, just published this story  on CJ.
You can also read about CJ's journey in The Philadelphia Inquirer .

Allow me to introduce you to CJ Thompson:
CJ moved to New York at the beginning of Sept to continue his studies. CJ's total cost for tuition, room & board & living expenses at the year at Columbia is approximately $82,000. He also had a $13,000 debt at Drexel that needed to be settled before his transcripts could be released. Due to the generosity of donors, Drexel is now paid in full.

CJ is attending the only college of Columbia that does not offer a full ride to DACA recipients. He was initially awarded a $17,000 scholarship and upon appeal, we just learned as of Sept 22, that he has been awarded another $10,000 in scholarship money from Columbia, allowing us to reduce the fundraising goal to $68,000, to cover the difference from the original $95,000. CJ is actively looking for work and there are other generous donors fundraising outside of the GoFundMe platform. As we continue to find other sources of revenue, we will continue to lower the GFM goal and narrow our gap.

I am asking for donations to ensure that CJ will have access to a world class education and a place to be safe and warm. With his parents living in a church and status as a DACA recipient, CJ has little to no financial support. 

Donations will be put into a specific account only to be used towards the cost of education. 

CJ is a smart, caring, and ambitious young man and deserves a chance at a prestigious education. His journey has been filled with obstacles that he has overcome despite being set back. 

CJ’s road towards Columbia:

Put yourself in CJ’s shoes. While focusing on finishing his associate's degree, his parents became asylum seekers living in a sanctuary church. They were given a deportation order from the current administration. Like many others would do, CJ decided to be there for his parents and help them in any way you could. He did so by deciding to set aside his education for the time being. Soon after, CJ took a position working in a factory for long hours to help keep his family's home. Unfortunately, the mental strain from working a demeaning job and living without his family became too much. 

CJ decided to push through and finish what he had left of a community college education. After receiving his associate’s degree, he left his family's empty home and moved  to Philadelphia. He had no real place to call home. During that time, CJ became a student at Drexel University. Along with becoming a student, he also became an activist for his parents and other DACA recipients like himself. He decided to advocate for his parents by cooking at their fundraisers, and speaking on their behalf at events they could not attend. At times he would speak in classrooms, churches, and at City Hall. CJ had taken up more responsibilities than the average student. The results were negative. His first semester was the worst he had ever performed academically. CJ finished the semester with a GPA of 2.75, and felt devastated and hopeless. 

CJ, after reflecting on his life, decided to make some big changes. He finally switched his major to film. CJ was afraid to take up a career in a field that isn’t financially secure in the eyes of many. Albeit, he was not going to let fear lead his life any longer. He also made changes in his schedule to put education first. The next semester's grades improved drastically to a GPA of 3.12. 

Although CJ was improving, he still had to face the financial burdens of being a DACA recipient. He could not afford Drexel’s tuition after losing his job when the COVID-19 pandemic began. He decided to take an academic leave in the Spring. During that time of reflection, CJ realized that if he were going to put time and effort into an institution it should be one that pertains to his needs as a nontraditional student and future filmmaker. 

CJ soon found the general studies program at Columbia University and immediately applied. After a few months of waiting anxiously, he received the good news. CJ was accepted to Columbia University. CJ was so excited and grateful to be accepted into a prestigious university, but the dark cloud of being a DACA recipient was still looming above, continuing to create financial obstacles. In the Fall of 2020, CJ plans to become a student at Columbia University and have the opportunity to follow your dreams.

Steps towards the future:

Everyone has hurdles in their lives but it’s about how you overcome those obstacles and keep pushing forward that leads to success. A degree in Film and Media Studies from Columbia University will provide CJ with the tools necessary to become a successful filmmaker. CJ’s goal is to use his talents in the film industry to bring light to stories that are dimmed by the hardships of this world. I know CJ will utilize his education to help and inspire others to reach higher and achieve more. 

We will be grateful for any support:

A college education is the gateway for many underrepresented young people to change their lives. Lack of money should not hinder anyone from being able to spread their wings and reach for the stars. 

Your donation will help to boost this young man towards his dreams of being a successful filmmaker. Your donation will help him soar above any boundaries in his life. 

Share CJ’s story with other kind hearts:

If you know others who would be inspired to help CJ, please copy the link to this page and share it on your Facebook and/or Instagram.


Supporters of CJ,

Wow!  In these really difficult times, this outpouring for CJ is heartwarming. Generosity is contagious —  so I'm paying it forward. I am donating a one week vacation at my home in Hilton Head, S.C., (which is 100 yards from the beach and sleeps 14)  to one of CJ's generous supporters. This is for anyone who contributes to CJ’s tuition from Sept 13, 2020 until  12pm on Oct 15, 2020.  The recipient will be able to choose from one of the following weeks in 2021: February 29-March 7, March 7-March 13, March 13-March 20, April 24 - May 1,  Sept 11-Sept 18.   Recipient will be notified by email and will need to sign a user agreement.

CJ is such an extraordinary young man. I have full confidence that he will soar at Columbia School of General Studies! Together we can help him focus on school and achieve his goals!

  • Anonymous 
    • $100 
    • 3 d
  • John V Compher 
    • $500 
    • 3 mos
  • Andrew Jones 
    • $100 
    • 8 mos
  • Raymond Torres 
    • $100 
    • 10 mos
  • Christy Morganstein 
    • $100 
    • 10 mos
See all

Fundraising team: CJ to Columbia (3)

Jocie Dye 
Raised $2,465 from 22 donations
Philadelphia, PA
Clive Thompson 
Clive Thompson 
Team member
Raised $4,810 from 40 donations
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