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Mentoring organization Bloom sowing seeds of confidence in Black girls

Mentoring organization Bloom sowing seeds of confidence in Black girls

By Staff reports on February 29, 2024

As a young Black girl growing up, Andrea Johnson did not have the resources or opportunities she needed to be empowered. 

Now, she is finding ways to sow seeds into the hearts and minds of young girls of color so they can be fruitful and succeed in all that they do. Her nonprofit organization, Bloom, is helping girls feel seen and heard, and giving them a platform on which to stand. The concept came about as she was writing her thesis for her master’s degree and processing her own struggles, achievements and healing. 

“It really touches my heart to provide this because we know these new experiences help shape who these little girls are going to be in the future,” Johnson said. 

As an example, Johnson took a group of girls last year on a tour of Spelman College, a historically black liberal arts college in Atlanta. Some of the girls had never heard of Spelman or thought that going to college was an option for them. 

“Now they can say, ‘OK, maybe one day I can go to this college. I can do this,’” Johnson said. “Some of them come from generations of women who may not have had the opportunity to go to college. I feel like we fill that gap when we can show them. We want to holistically sow into these girls so that they have a positive sense of themselves.” 

Many of the girls connected to Bloom are being raised by single parents. Johnson said she is touched by many of the single mothers who have expressed gratitude for having this program for their girls. Being a part of Bloom means involving both the mothers and daughters in a “Mom and Me” program. This helps foster deeper relationships between mothers and daughters. 

“We're intentional about what we're trying to give to these girls. We have a holistic approach, meaning anything that we feel the girls need, we try to provide,” Johnson said. “We have a two-generational approach. Whatever we do for the girls, we try to do it for the moms as well.” 

Bloom also runs a “compassion closet” to provide families with basic needs. The group works with a community health worker who evaluates the situations of each family connected to Bloom and offers therapy and other services that may be needed. 

Bloom is made possible through Connect Spartanburg, an adolescent health initiative in partnership with the Spartanburg Regional Foundation. 

“Connect has been a lifeline for Bloom,” Johnson said. “I get emotional thinking about this because I really didn't know where we would go, how far we would go and where we would end up.” 

Through mentorships, education programs, relationship building and exposing these girls to opportunities that strengthen their self-confidence, Johnson said she is excited to see them become future leaders in the community and beyond. 

“It’s so important for these girls to know that they can do whatever they set their minds to and for them to say, ‘the color of my skin should not be a hindrance,’” Johnson said.