By Taroue Brooks
Photos John Walder
Tell us about your education.
I am from Atlanta, GA and my early education was in Atlanta Public School District, which is where I experienced supportive, caring and motivating adults (primarily women) who believed in my potential. My teachers, and other adults in the schools I attended, pushed me to always give my best and work hard. After high school, I completed a double major at Florida A&M University in Business Administration and Industrial Engineering, and subsequently a Master of Business Administration from Goizueta Business School at Emory University. During my education years, I was blessed to have mentors, both formally and informally.
Why did you establish B’Fly Girls?
I founded B’Fly Girls out of obedience to an assignment (a calling) from God. The assignment from God was in response to me telling HIM I wanted to use my life, gifts and talents to have impact and make a difference in the world. I always knew I would be an entrepreneur because my father planted those seeds early in my life by modeling the excitement and rewards of entrepreneurship, but I never dreamed of being a social entrepreneur. God placed a deep desire in my heart to serve and meet the needs of young girls in metro Atlanta, which actually began in high school through invitations to speak to young girls at various summer camps. During that time, I did not think much of those speaking experiences, but as I reflect, I am able to see the hand of God orchestrating my life towards preparation. God placed a passion and purpose in my heart for young girls. I am fully confident that my purpose is to ensure that young girls in metro Atlanta have supportive and caring adults who are concerned about their potential and are committed to motivating girls to excel toward their purpose and destiny.
How do you manage or process your faith?
My faith is an evolving process that grows with every trial, hardship, triumph, lesson, and revelation. Some days I do well with exercising my faith, and other days I leak and do not do so well. In other words, it becomes a challenge because of the difficulties of life and due to my lack of recharging. On the days that exercising my faith becomes a challenge, I draw upon the support of my phenomenal Proverbs 31 mother who is a strong woman of faith, and my squad of great girlfriends who speak into me the words needed to build my faith when it wanes. Every girl and woman needs a squad who will pray when you are weak, speak life into you when circumstances get hard, and remind you of whose you are and how powerful and capable you are to fulfill purpose.
How do you raise money for your nonprofit?
After founding B’Fly Girls, I established a board of directors who supported our initial fundraising efforts. The board created several initiatives that today provide the organization with the financial resources to support our programming and provide girls with the services needed. Currently, we have two signature fundraisers – a 5K Run/Walk, and a formal Butterfly Ball that also provides an opportunity to acknowledge the accomplishments of our mentees, provide scholarships, and allow donors to engage our mentees. Our newest initiative to raise funds is through corporate volunteer grants, also known as Dollars for Doers grants, which encourages employees to get involved in community service. The corporate volunteer grants are a triple advantage for us because they cultivate corporate partnerships, build our volunteer family, and provide donations for every hour an employee provides volunteer time to BFG.
What do you learn from the girls you mentor?
Mentoring young girls teaches me so much. One thing that continues to be fun about being a mentor is the opportunity to stay current (and relevant) with the latest slang, which really is not all that new and is more like a “recycle with a twist” from back in my young days (smile). The generational gap, specifically with our high school mentees, has taught me to be bold and comfortable with busting up some traditional ideas and approaches I learned in college and in the workforce. I’ve also realized that young girls are hungry to learn, despite the walls they put up, and to engage an adult who shows care and concern, especially in those moments when young girls are not exhibiting their best self. Lastly, the boldness of the current generation “to be who they are” teaches me the importance of embracing my unique qualities for what they are and not be limited by what society expects me to be – this is a huge lesson as I am ever evolving into my best self.
Share one memorable experience with one of your girls.
One memorable experience was an outing with the girls where there was a DJ and music playing, so I started to dance (because I love to dance). The girls were amazed that I could dance, why I will never know. I thought they knew, but I guess they learned that day (smile).
How can people find out more about your nonprofit?
To learn more about B’Fly Girls, Inc., we invite people to check us out on our website, and social media pages on both Facebook and Instagram, or to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am always willing and available to schedule time to meet and share information with those interested in learning more about the organization to determine how best to partner with our efforts to mentor more young girls.
What are you in need of the most?
B’Fly Girls is in need of mentors and corporate partnerships that allow us to tap employees to serve as mentors. The need for mentors is great and currently outpaces the available BFG mentors. With the expansion of programming, we will need one full-time staff to support programming and the partnerships that will develop. Thus, we are in need of funding to support staffing and the expansion of the mentoring footprint.
What are three things you want your girls to learn from your leadership?
Through my leadership, I hope to teach young girls that humility and confidence are two key ingredients to being an effective leader. I want them to know the importance of believing in yourself and what you are capable of doing and becoming. People will always question, challenge, and even dismiss who you are and what you bring to the table. Therefore, life requires that you be intentional about including daily affirmation and self-care to ensure you maintain a belief in self. Finally, I want girls to know there is value in failure, which is a part of the development process, when you seek to learn from it and accept that it prepares you for destiny and purpose. Failure does not define you, but instead can refine you.
What are the requirements for someone to become a mentor?
We seek women, young adults to adults, who have a heart and passion to serve young girls. Women who are open to sharing knowledge that can help girls navigate the years of being a young person. Women who want to share their life experiences and wisdom to ensure the next generation is stronger, powerful and more impactful than the prior generation. Mentors need to be able to volunteer at least six hours per month.
Where do you see your nonprofit in the next five years?
When I think about where BFG started in 2005, it blows my mind and humbles me to reflect on the significant growth experienced the past 14-years. I never envisioned we would be at 51 schools across five school districts serving 380 mentees, and expanding to another state (Louisiana) in 2019-2020. Based on this growth, the next 5-years for B’Fly Girls is exponentially exciting. Our 5-year plan includes program expansion to other states, expanding our model to mentor girls with transition to college, and curating a deeper portfolio of mentoring modules that engage girls in topics and issues of greatest concern to them and those that ultimately support them becoming confident, intelligent, and healthy girls, living and excelling in life with a sense of purpose of destiny (that is our VISION).
What We Do
B’Fly Girls, Inc. partners with schools, community centers and faith-based organizations to provide influential youth mentoring services to young girls in a safe and trusting environment. We also expose our girls to community service opportunities and empowering educational field trips to further enhance their experience with us.