Grantwriting in Valued Environments (G.I.V.E.), a BTU investment in Towson University’s Department of English, advances students’ professional writing goals by connecting their coursework to the writing needs of small nonprofit organizations. The work of G.I.V.E includes researching, writing, submitting, and tracking grants; providing narrative for organizational storytelling; and web and newsletter content development—all while helping students to increase their professional experience and capacity.

Through one of G.I.V.E.’s ongoing partnerships with The Be.Org, they became aware of an organization called Black Girls Cook, and over the past six months, have been expanding their collaboration and support opportunities. Black Girls Cook, a Baltimore-based nonprofit established in 2014, empowers and inspires adolescent girls of color self-actualization techniques and life-skills through the culinary arts and urban farming. Their work addresses the high percentages of obesity among African-American women, and offers the following programs:

  • Culinary Program: cooking classes and life-skills workshops taught by female chefs and professionals of color
  • Edible Gardening Program: hands-on education and urban gardening to form connections between plants, animals, and meals
  • The Kitchen Sink Beauty Program: curriculum to create skin and beauty care products with kitchen ingredients and entrepreneurial classes to explore opportunities to sell products for personal gain
  • The Food Playground: a collaboration between Black Girls Cook and The Be.Org, infusing the principles of STEM with culinary arts by exploring ecosystems and food systems through gardening, cooking, and local community exploration.
  • BGC Kids Food + Wellness Festival: an annual event aimed at educating and exposing local youth to local organizations and businesses that provide services in the areas of food, health, and wellness
  • Community Engagement: partnerships with community organizations and local businesses to host culinary related events around healthy meal preparation and growing edible gardens

Since its establishment, through the above programming, they have impacted girls ages 8-15 by:

  • Making healthier food choices
  • Increasing their science, math, and communication skills
  • Having higher self-confidence and self-esteem
  • Growing and preparing more dishes at home consisting of fruits, vegetables, and herbs
  • Establishing lasting relationships

Over the past six months, Black Girls Cook has had four different TU students working with them through G.I.V.E. and the TU Department of English, supporting them in areas of grantwriting, program support, communications, and outreach. They are also exploring additional opportunities with the Department of Communications Studies and the Student Government Association around event and fundraiser collaborations.

I was interested in interning with Black Girls Cook because cooking allows a culture of offering and obtaining a sense of unique energy to the people you are preparing food for I wanted to contribute to this culture of young women to help them foster their love of learning how to cook.

—Nyia Lampkin, G.I.V.E. intern, quoted in Black Girls Cook February 2021 newsletter

Nyia will be responsible for the creation of the March 2021 Black Girls Cook newsletter. Subscribe to their newsletter to stay up to date with their work. Visit their website to learn more about their work, explore ways to get involved, and check out some of their spice blends for sale.