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This MSU graduate is tackling chronic diseases in minority communities

International Day of Charities: RAWS Michigan

This MSU graduate is tackling chronic diseases in minority communities

Sept. 5 is International Day of Charities. The international day of giving began after the United Nations General Assembly adopted the resolution in 2012 to observe and honor Mother Teresa of Calcutta. The Nobel Peace Prize winner was known around the world for her devotion to ending poverty. International Day of Charities urges the public to continue Mother Teresa’s legacy by giving to those less fortunate and helping to end poverty worldwide.

Here in Detroit, Kady Cox is doing her part to end racial disparities in health. Her non-profit, Raising Awareness With Students Michigan (RAWS) focuses on preventive ways of combating diseases that disproportionately affect minority communities.

Cox created the organization in 2015 as a registered student organization at Michigan State University. Her main mission was to fight diabetes. As the organization grew, so did the range of diseases RAWS sought to prevent.

“Talking to a lot of my members, they were saying how their parents were affected by different diseases and that's when I decided that I should talk about more than just diabetes,” Cox said.

In its early inception, RAWS’ biggest event was an annual diabetes walk. Once the scope of diseases covered by the organization grew, Cox decided to build on that momentum to create other programs and events.

Currently, RAWS partners with Wayne State University’s C2 Pipeline program. At the start of the year, Cox began a pilot program at Marygrove. “We worked on different programs |LS|for|RS| diabetes, mental health, HIV/AIDS, nutrition and different ways to live a healthier lifestyle,” she said.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States, Cox and the RAWS team decided to focus on a much larger health disparity affecting Black and brown people: RACISM.

“We are trying to get people to understand that racism affects your health; it affects people's well-being; it affects people's mental health,” Cox said. “Simply to wake up and be black in a country that is racist and treats people of certain colors differently is a public health crisis.”

Leading studies from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization have underscored issues relating to health equity in minority communities. Black and brown people suffer more from underlying conditions that put them at higher risks of contracting COVID and possibly dying from it. Other key issues to health inequity include access to quality healthcare, health insurance coverage and other social determinants of health (SDoH) such as non-medical issues as environment, housing, education, institutional racism, transportation and under and unemployment.

“We just recently returned from Washington, D.C. for our March on Washington |LS|anniversary|RS| trip where we basically gave out PPE care kits, but we wanted to let the community know that racism is a public health crisis,” Cox said. “The two are definitely intertwined and now that's what we're dedicating our time towards COVID.”

RAWS also has a cohort for younger students in the 7th to 11th grades, RAWS Jr. The cohort allows younger children the opportunity to combat and prevent chronic illnesses earlier on in life as well as leadership opportunities.

“RAWS Jr members get first priority because they have attended monthly trainings and discussions where we actually talked out the issues that are going on in America,” she said. “E-board members are eventually given the opportunity to be promoted as interns.”

Currently, RAWS has gone completely digital due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Each Friday, it hosts virtual HealthTea Parties on Zoom at 6 p.m.

“We're going over different topics like mental health, minorities in our hospitals, clinical therapy for children and things like that,” Cox said. “Our virtual programs are basically just public programs where people can come in and network, meet other people.”

The virtual HealthTea Parties are open to the public. You can register here.


In honor of International Day of Charities, we urge you to support RAWS and other grassroot non-profits in need of your time and donations. We’ve put together a list of non-profits in the city and items they’ll need to continue their work.


RAWS Michigan (


Face Masks

Hand Sanitizer

Kleenex Packs

Ziploc Bags

Printing Paper


A Peaceful Retreat Inc. (Support for survivors of domestic abuse)

Donations are needed for the organization’s or its refuge home remodeling.

Cement/masonry repair on the porch and driveway

Kitchen upgrades including floor/lighting/electrical upgrades

Bathrooms upgrades (1-full bath and 1-half bath)

Painting throughout the house

Floors need refinishing throughout the house

Basement needs finishing 

Block glass basement windows 

Lighting upgrades

Drywall repairs 

Estimates on the work totaled $26,000.


MISSion.31 (mentoring program for girls in grades 6-12)



Canvases (Blank, 10x10)

Colored Pencils

Construction Paper

Flower Pots (Small/Medium)


Index Cards




Paper Plates


Popsicle Sticks

Rubber Bands


Sticky Notes


Tye-Dye Kits (Red, Blue, Green, Yellow, Purple, Orange)

Word/Letter Cutouts

3-Ring Binders (Purple, Black, or White)


Midnight Golf Program (MGP) (college readiness program through the skill of golf)

$25,000: Crucial College Support Resources including: Tuition assistance, book costs, food and clothing, plane tickets home for the holidays. A $1,000 increase in a student’s financial aid corresponds to a 9.2% decrease in the likelihood that they will drop out of college. 

$10,000: The cost to support 2 first-generation college students through our program each year. About 30% of MGP students each year will be the first in their family to attend college.

$5,000: The average financial gap of an MGP student. Covering this gap could prevent college dropout. 

$1,500: The cost to send one MGP student on the Road Trip for Success College Tour. 45 students were admitted to four different colleges and universities and awarded $129,000 in financial aid as a result of the 2019 trip alone.

$500: Transportation and Lodging Expenses for the Road Trip for Success College Tour

$200: Provide golf clubs for a MGP student

$100: Send a College Care Package to a student


360 Detroit (neighborhood revitalization organization)

Kitchenware (microwave, pots, pans, cooking utensils, dishes, bakeware and flatware)

Gas stove, refrigerator, washer and gas dryer


Gas grill

Patio gas heaters

Yoga mats

Wire Storage Racks

Storage Bins

Art Supplies

We have a book list of over 200 books featuring and/or written by people of color. Cost is approximately $15 per book or $3000 for all 200. 

60 Blue Chip Jr Butterfly Bushes

42 Purple Cranesbils

42 Cranesbil Geraniums

42 Rozanne Geraniums

161 Violet Intrigue Lavenders

161 English Lavenders

161 Giant Hyssops


Youth Are Bigger Than Life (youth education organization)

Monetary donations for Thanksgiving and Christmas food giveaways (both costing $3,000 each)



Personal Items


FOG Kids (Grief support for children)

Books about grief for children 3-12

    • The Memory Box: A Book About Grief by Joanna Rowland and Thea Bake
    • Angel Catcher for Kids: A Journal to Help You Remember the Person You Love Who Died by Amy Eldon
    • Something Very Sad Happened: A Toddler’s Guide to Understanding Death Hardcover by Bonnie Zucker
    • The Invisible String Workbook: Creative Activities to Comfort, Calm, and Connect
    • by Patrice Karst 

Any type of plant seeds. We have the children plant a flower in memory of their loved one.

Markers, Stickers, Cardstock as the children send cards to those who are sick and grieving.

Small Teddy bears

Stress Balls

Volunteers to Read once a month to upload to our Facebook Page; starting in November

Any type of trinket that we can send in our Sunshine Boxes


Detroit Phoenix Center (haven for homeless youth) 

Gift Cards to major chains, such as Target, Walmart, Meijer, McDonalds, Burger King, etc. 

School Supplies – Pencils, Notebooks, Bookbags, Folders 

Non-Perishable Food Items (Beef Jerky, Kraft Mac n Cheese, Ramen Noodles, Vienna Sausages, PopTarts, Granola Bars etc.) 


The Children’s Center (support for at-risk children and families)

Immediate need for emergency food pantry






Chicken in a Can



Spaghetti Sauce

Vegetables in a Can

Fruit in a Can


Macaroni and Cheese









Baby Formula

Baby Rice Cereal

Powder Milk


Kids Snacks

Corn Bread Mixes

Peanut Butter


Instant Potatoes



Be A Friend Inc. (mental health advocacy organization)



Compact Mirrors 

Yoga Mats 

Water Bottles 

Copy Paper 

Printer Ink 

Self-Laminating Sleeves 

Adult Coloring Books 

Colored Pencils 


Mommies Melodies (mother support group)

Journals for moms to journal



Diapers sizes 3

Pull ups 2T and up

Car seats

High chairs 


Poster boards

Grocery gift cards


Dia’s Dolls (toy drive focused on dolls for Black and Brown girls) [email protected]

Dolls of color for the annual Christmas Doll Drive


Detroit Association of Women’s Clubs (business and resource organization for African American women)

Cleaning Supplies (Clorox wipes, Lysol, Windex, bleach, soap, etc.) 

Paper Towel

Bottled Waters

PPE (Masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, etc.) 

Monetary Donations towards clubhouse repairs/restoration (windows & floors are 100+ years old, parking lot needs to be paved) 


Just Speak (providing trauma-informed programming to children 3-17)

New yoga mats (30+)

Yoga mat sanitizer (50+)

Masks for ages 3-17 (100+)

Healthy snacks & art pencils for virtual kits (200+)

Journals (100+)

Laptops/tablets for our loaner closet

Dance leotards for our supply closet (30+)

Hand sanitizer

Water bottles for kits (100+)

Water (200+)

Presentation software (Slidebean) 

Laptop stands

Hygiene products-lotion, body wash, deodorant, sanitary napkins (100)

Toothbrushes, toothpaste, floss (100)

Brush and combs (100)

Notebooks & folders (100)

Disinfectant, paper towel, wipes, toilet paper


Project Dream Inc. (mobile youth support organization) [email protected]

(5) Microsoft Tablets
(2) iPhones


iCare Detroit (youth literacy)

Amazon Wish List

Books for grade levels K – 12

Writing Utensils (Pens, Pencils)

Marketing/Branding Materials/ Student Swag (Shirts, hats, Hoodies, Flash drives)
Thermal Laminating Pouches 8.9 x 11.4, 3Mil Thickness, Crystal Clear Finish, 500 Pack

Product Labels (VistaPrint)

Avery Shipping Labels with Sure Feed, Print-to-the-Edge, 3-3/4" x 4-3/4", 100 White Labels (6878)

White Copy Paper Reams

Colored Copy Paper Reams (Turquoise/Blue/Red/Pink/Green)

Storage Containers/Storage Rack


Cricket machine

Shipping/Product Boxes

Crinkle Cut Shred Paper

Filing Cabinet

HP 61 Black/ Tri-Color ink cartridges

Shipping Tape

Monetary donations to reach $15,000 fundraising goal