Seventeen-year-old activist Matthew Tikhonovsky, who is the son of Ukrainian refugees, was tired of hearing anti-immigrant rhetoric. Tired of hearing “You don’t belong here” directed toward immigrants. And tired of hearing “You weren’t vetted properly” hurled at refugees like his parents. So, he decided to take action. Recognizing that hate often stems from ignorance, Matthew designed a poster series with information about America’s immigration vetting policies and began to display it at high schools in Atlanta, GA. Founded in 2017, WACIMS has since grown into a national grassroots movement, spread solely through word-of-mouth. WACIMS has been featured at over 50 high schools and colleges across the nation, including at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton, and has educated thousands of young people about immigration policies.
Matthew Tikhonovsky is also the founder and director of Refugee Thrive, a youth-led service initiative that provides clothing donations to refugee families. Follow Refugee Thrive on Instagram here and read more about it here.
WACIMS is part of the Greenville Refugee Empowerment and Entrepreneurship Network (GREEN), which was recognized as a Clinton Global Initiative Social Venture Challenge Semi-Finalist in 2018.