John Barbosa

John Barbosa

“We’ve seen the dollars go directly to impact the lives of students working to achieve that diploma and that diploma is what opens the doors to them getting a good-paying job.

Every year for the past three years, John and Debbie Barbosa give back to Texas Southern University to the Maroon and Gray Foundation through their company, Challenger Office Supply. Their greatest joy comes in watching their contributions at work.

“We have seen that 100 percent of those donations go directly toward student scholarships, which has helped students academically and financially, to graduate,” John said. “Every time you see a graduating class go through, you know that those funds had a direct impact. There are students that if they didn’t have those funds, that would have been a roadblock. And when you have a senior that’s only one semester from being able to graduate, you don’t want lack of money to be what stops them from graduating.”

John says it’s easy for his family to give because they know the doors that can be opened by donating.

“We’ve seen the dollars go directly to impact the lives of students working to achieve that diploma, and that diploma is what opens the doors to them getting a good-paying job,” John said.

“It’s a beginning but if they didn’t have it, they wouldn’t be able to get that job. So it helps them to get that diploma. And to us that is the most satisfying feeling.” Giving was something that has been instilled in John since childhood, and manifested as he built his office supply company. “We have had a good working relationship with the university for many years,” he said. “We have been in business for 32 years and we are a family-operated company. My father, who was a co-founder of the company back in 1982, believed in giving back to the community and he instilled in us that education is one of the best gifts that you can give back to the youth because they are our future. We want young people to know that the American dream is alive and strong.

“These students are the future of our country,” he added. “They are the future doctors, the attorneys, the educators, and the entrepreneurs because that is the spirit of education – to allow them to dream their dreams, to set their goals, and to accomplish that dream. That is why our company name is Challenge. So I guess it all comes back full circle.” John is vocal in urging others to give back to the university.

“Be thankful for the blessings that you have and to reach out to give back to the community. So that all students have that fair opportunity. And that’s regardless of their race, color or creed, or their economic backgrounds. It means something to reach down in your own pocket and pay it forward and that’s just the philosophy that we have,” he said. For the Barbosa family, who contributes to several educational institutions, giving back makes good sense.

“We go to work; we work hard every day. We’re fortunate that we have a good business base and good business partners. We rise to the challenge and we’ve been very blessed and this is just our way of giving back to the community.”

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