Associate Professor of Management Information Systems Dr. Lakisha Simmons read about period poverty in a national magazine, prompting her to ask several of her friends who work in Nashville schools about the issue. That conversation sparked a much larger discussion surrounding the significant challenge that some girls in Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) have accessing essential products.
After more research, Simmons learned that 43% of the students in MNPS are economically disadvantaged, and there are 11 middle and high schools on the district’s priority list. Throughout these schools, girls are missing upwards of a week of school each month because they do not have access to period protection products. That was all Simmons needed to hear — and The Nashville Period Project was born.
“I couldn’t sit back and do nothing knowing there are girls are missing school or class because of something out of their control,” she said. “I come from humble beginnings, but luckily my family was always able to provide what I needed. Period protection is a necessity. We may not all agree on the solution, but I wanted to do my part to help.”
Through her nonprofit, The Achiever Academy, Simmons set out to host a collection throughout the month of September and invited Nashvillians to get involved by donating period products to Metro students. Together, in just four weeks, the group collected more than 200,000 items.
With approximately 2,900 females at these 11 priority schools, Simmons is happy to be able to provide products for 2-3 monthly cycles, but she’s not done. “We will continue to raise awareness and facilitate donations for the girls most in need throughout our city,” she said. “These are our neighbors who need our help. Our work is not done.”