In honor of Black History Month, we are highlighting more of what makes Utah great: the state’s Black Owned Businesses and nonprofits. Throughout February, this series will showcase a variety of business owners in a variety of fields from the food industry, the arts, fashion, and a non-profit that prides itself in encouraging children of color.
This week we meet Alyssha Darisow, a non-native Utahn, with roots stemming from the East Coast (North Carolina and New Jersey), but someone who has used her platform to elevate and inspire the Utah community, especially children of color. Alyssha is the founder of CurlyMe a non-profit organization that prides itself on educating, empowering, and encouraging children of color, specifically young Black girls in the state of Utah.
The organization launched in 2015, after multiple instances where Alyssha was seeing a lack of representation in public spaces for young Black boys and girls of color throughout the state. “The lack of diversity here in 2013 is one of the reasons why CurlyMe! had to come to be,” She said. “Because we didn’t have a lot of marketing with Black children involved in it, we wanted to fill that gap of Black kids seeing themselves in public spaces.”
Two years after she moved, she finally realized that she could be the change she wanted to see. Her aha moment to start the organization occurred in Old Navy when she saw a white mom with her Black child. “If there was something for your daughter would you do it?’” she asked the woman. The woman eagerly responded yes, and that was the confirmation Alyssha needed to start Curlyme!
From there the non-profit was born, hosting an array of events for young children of color to meet and have fun with other kids that look like them. One of their most popular events is Change the World with Her, a career fair in a speed-dating style. “The kids have 6-7 minutes at a table where they are learning about a profession they may not know about, and they are learning it from a person of color.” the non-profit founder explained. “We are trying to expose our children to professions they may have heard about or may not even know about but you can see yourself because this person looks like you.”
Despite the pandemic putting a halt on in-person events, the organization was still able to evolve. “The pivot is what I call 2020 for CurlyMe!, it was definitely a pivoting time for us. I look forward to taking all of the things that we learned from this pandemic and incorporating them into our future plans to reach more girls, cities, and other girl programs outside of the state,” Alyssha said.
The organization held a variety of events from Bingo, Check In’s, and bringing in Black clinicians to check in with the girls on how they are feeling mentally/emotionally. The organization even targets to help parents of different raced children, having candid conversations. “We want to make sure that our parents know how to advocate for their children in schools but not only that also having conversations at home, have conversations with their friends, to have the conversations with their children because that’s how this cycle can die down if we have those conversations.”
Although the year looks different, CurlyMe! Is still finding ways to reach as many children as possible. CurlyMe! Is always looking for volunteers and speakers to learn more about the organization you can visit https://curlyme.org/about-us/.