Between participating in sports, traveling with clubs, and attending prom, high school can be expensive.
Those costs are what prompted six King High School students in Tampa to start the BestFit Foundation.
The nonprofit organization's purpose is to give scholarships and formal attire to students who aren’t able to afford it.
Founder, incoming senior Arpan Bagui, said he wanted to start the nonprofit after learning his friend wouldn’t be able to afford to compete in a national debate competition.
“We were both very excited,” Bagui said. “All of a sudden he became distant, and all our talks and plans stopped happening. He came forward and said he wasn’t going to be able to attend this tournament. I never realized it but throughout his debate career, finances were something that were pressing on him.”
“Because he was unable to come up with enough money, he wasn’t able to attend. Stories like that are very common across various academic activities.”
According to Bagui, BestFit has helped over 200 students, and they’ve given out $4,000 in scholarships.
Bagui said he feels it’s not fair that lack of funds prevent some students from taking part in these kinds of events, especially since participating in extracurricular activities is an important element in getting into college.
“As a result of this, it’s mainly more fortunate students that are participating in these activities,” Bargui said. “Whereas, a lot of the more underprivileged students are focused on getting a part-time job and not necessarily competing in these activities. As a result there's kind of a cultural divide, if not a socio-economic one.”
Students interested in using BestFit can fill out an application form on its website.
“The application form simply asks what do you need and why do you need it? We entertain all kinds of students. We really just want to help students who really need formal clothes or scholarships,” Bagui said.
The clothes are housed in a BestFit Foundation section at the Salvation Army Family Store and Donation Center at 13910 N. Nebraska Avenue in Tampa. The selection includes business casual clothes, formal wear, and even prom dresses.