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7 Nonprofits Dedicated to Empowering Young Brown Girls

There are a growing number of organizations teaching young black girls everything from safety to interpersonal skills.
Courtesy of Gyrl Wonder

At a time when the faces of young black girls are seen flashed across the news for going missing, now more than ever, resources to learn safety and interpersonal skills are crucial.

There are a growing number of organizations teaching girls everything from safety to interpersonal skills. While they’re all a little different, the common thread is that they all create a sense of community for the young women involved.

We polled our Instagram audience for some of their favorite organizations that empower women of color. Here are seven you need to know.

1. Gyrl Wonder

Former MTV and BET executive and serial entrepreneur Tola Lawal, founded Gyrl Wonder as a way to give young women opportunities and guidance she wished she had as a teenager. “It provides a safe space for the girls to communicate with each other to talk about their feelings, school and their life, self care issues, and more,” Lawal said.

Gyrl Wonder is based in New York but engages girls around the country through their Facebook Live events and social media initiatives. Their programs engage girls through their four pillars; Self Care, Self Image, Empowerment and Development. The participants meet regularly, engaging in field trips to places such as the National Museum of African American History and the White House, yoga classes, personal development workshops, and more.

2. PowerPlay, NYC

Dedicated to empowering and educating girls through sports, Powerplay, NYC has held programs for the past 17 years, helping girls to feel more confident, competent and connected throughout New York City, and beyond.

In 2015, PowerPlay was granted over $1 million by the Mayor’s Office to lead the STARS Citywide Girls Initiative, a collaboration of nine nonprofits in New York City focused on helping girls of color overcome barriers to success. For the third year in a row, they will be hosting their Girls Leadership summit for 500 girls, partnering with their team of nine organizations focused on young women’s initiatives. The theme this year is “Leadership Through Activism.”

“We are partnering with the Center for Anti-Violence Education to Offer a weekly program this summer,” said Strategic Partnerships and External Affairs Director Kate Bancks. Initiatives to ensure safety for the girls are being reinstated after the recent increase in awareness of young girls going missing.


The brainchild of celebrity DJ and philanthropist Beverly Bond, BLACK GIRLS ROCK! is not only a nonprofit, but a movement, dedicated to enlightening girls through leadership, education and positive identity development. For the past eleven years, BGR has worked to enrich hundreds of girls ages 13-17 and seeks cause a paradigm shift in the way music and media messaging negatively impacts women and girls worldwide.

Partnering with BET in 2011, the Black Girls Rock! was brought to the world stage through it’s awards show, which has honored amazing luminaries such as Michelle Obama, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Dr. Nadia Lopez and many more.

BGR Programs include The Queens’ Camp, BLACK GIRLS LEAD conference, out of school time (OST) programs such as the Saturday Enrichment Institute and GIRLS ROCK TECH! , where girls focus on STEM development through music, media and digital technologies.

4. Brown Girls Do Ballet

First founded as an avenue to highlight more young people of color in the arts, Brown Girls Do Ballet, a part of ‘Brown Girls Do,’ is a community that provides scholarships, mentoring, and resources for young women of color. Their mission is to ‘increase the participation of underrepresented minority populations in ballet programs through organizing and arranging performances, photo exhibitions, and providing resources and scholarships to assist young girls in their ballet development and training’ according to their site.

Co-Founder TaKiyah Wallace searched her neighborhood for programs but could not find programs where her daughter would be the only brown face. In efforts to highlight diversity in dance, she former ballerina and media professional Brittani started the Brown Girls Do Instagram page which has grown into a movement. They sell products, have a photo exhibition, mentoring and ambassadors program, a directory where parents and caretakers can find ‘Brown girl friendly’ dance studios and more.

5. Pretty Brown Girls

A term of endearment from a father to his daughters, coupled with a mother’s passion to us her God-given gifts to empower others is what birthed “Pretty Brown Girls,” a movement that includes African-American dolls, accessories, events and programs for girls and women nationwide.

In 2010, concern for their daughter’s self-esteem and disappointment in the lack of diversity in media and in doll stores caused Sheri and her husband to take action and make a change. After they relocated to Detroit they noticed a change in their oldest daughter’s attitude. Only in Kindergarten at the time, during shampoo commercials she started saying she wanted ‘long blonde hair’ like her classmates. Further, when hosting a party for her daughter at a popular doll store, the only black doll available was a former slave and the girls all gravitated towards the white dolls.

Sheri and her husband Corey started by making their own dolls and accessories, and then expanded to after school programs where they have partnered with several schools in Michigan and around the country, workshops, a newsletter and events including ‘Pretty Brown Girl Day,’ which they just celebrated in February.

6. Girls Going Global

Helping to give girls a global perspective and diversify the travel and international affairs industry, Girls Going Global provides opportunities for young women to explore, volunteer and learn the history of other cultures outside of the United States. GGG has partnered with the Peace Corps to make an effective impact on the communities they visit and engage the young women in service learning projects. They also have mentors for the girls to provide guidance not only to enhance their experience but also to influence their lives.

Founded in 2012 by globetrotter Martice Sutton, Spelman and UPenn graduate, the organization first began with “Passport to the World” as a way to expose young women in Philadelphia to different parts of their city. 5 years later, the organization now has an Atlanta chapter, has partnered with the Steve and Marjorie Harvey Foundation and has impacted over 100 young women.

7. The Women in Entertainment Empowerment Network (WEEN)

In 2000, four friends in the entertainment industry, Valeisha Butterfield Jones, Sabrina Thompson, Kristi Henderson and Lauren Lake, founded WEEN in order to increase the amount of opportunities and training for women of color in the entertainment industry and take responsibility for the next generation of leaders. Since then, they have gained members and supporters nationwide in support of their mission to support, amplify, and advocate for a balanced narrative of women in entertainment and society. Their board is made up of leaders such as Janaye Ingram, Angela Rye, and Shanti Das.

Throughout the year, WEEN hosts and supports initiatives focusing on Health Education, Financial Literacy, Career Development and Personal Advancement. Each year, they host the WEEN Awards and their Flagship WEEN Academy. The WEEN Awards has highlighted some of the top executives and artists in the entertainment including Bozoma Saint John, Meagan Good and Yara Shahidi. Young women from both the East and West Coasts come to New York City to get their chance at a spot in the WEEN Academy, a four-week summer intensive for young women ages 18-26 to gain preparation and contacts in the industry.

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