“She Says” with Amber N. Anderson

Women Employed
She Says


A planter is often described as a farmer, grower, or producer, and Amber N. Anderson is the embodiment of that and more. In 2017, the then-16-year-old began planting seeds for what is now Black is Gold Organization, a nonprofit that focuses on empowering young Black women and girls in high school and college throughout the United States. Now, seven years later, the nonprofit leader is watching as those seeds blossom into something greater than she could have ever imagined. To date, the Black is Gold Organization has served over 400 young Black women and girls through their Girl Boss 101 Saturday Mentorship Program and Black is Gold University Program. Providing them with access to not just scholarships, job/internship opportunities, social-emotional learning resources, and self-care tools, but community. Ensuring that all those who come out of Black is Gold Organization’s programs walk away with both the tools they need to succeed in life and each other.

As for the future of Black is Gold Organization, Amber is preparing to launch their Golden Girl Job Board that will house job/internship and scholarship opportunities, making it easier for young women to find what they are in search of. Amber also has dreams of Black Is Gold Organization having a brick-and-mortar location where they can hold their Girl Boss 101 Saturday Mentoring Program and provide a space for young Black women and girls to complete job and internship applications, apply for college and scholarships, and host various events that cater to their overall wellness.

In this month’s “She Says,” Women Employed’s 2024 Emerging Power Builder honoree, Amber N. Anderson, shares with us the motivation behind the Black is Gold Organization, overcoming access to funding sources, and how she is making herself proud.

Tell me about yourself.

Right now, I’m evolving and growing into the woman that I want to be so that I can carry out my vision for Black is Gold Organization. I want to be a great nonprofit leader who leads a team of Board of Directors. And it’s scary. No one tells you that. It’s very scary making those, as I like to call them, “big girl, grown-up decisions,” on budgets and the vision of where the organization is going.

I’m a recent alumna of Hampton University where I was the 65th Miss Hampton. And this past Sunday marked exactly one year since I graduated. Being Miss Hampton was a really great experience. As a campus queen, I was able to elevate Black is Gold Organization and spread the word about the work we were doing on campus. That gave me the motivation and thought process that this was something I could do beyond college.

What’s the motivation behind Black is Gold Organization?

Well, if 16-year-old me could see me now, she probably wouldn’t believe it, because I didn’t believe that this is what Black is Gold Organization would become. I went to Kenwood Academy High School and had a teacher by the name of Mrs. Bedford who really impacted me. She was my first Black woman teacher in high school, and it was exciting to learn from someone who looked like me and who I could relate to. Everything about Mrs. Bedford was amazing. She taught African American history, and I enjoyed it so much that I went on to take the African American History II and any class she taught after that. Everything that I learned from Mrs. Bedford about Black history and Black women was just so empowering.

I remember watching a music video by the rapper, Wale, for his song, “Black is Gold,” and it showcased various Black women. It showed that Black women are not a monolith. We are diverse. We’re different. We have different hairstyles, hair textures, body types, complexions, hobbies, and interests. That inspired me to make a video with a few of my friends showcasing the beauty of Black women and empowering us to feel confident in our skin. We went on to do more photoshoots and I wanted to put the word out even further.

I contacted someone I knew from Spelman College who used to write for the Maroon Tiger, which is Morehouse College’s newspaper. I asked if she was able to share what we were doing, and although she loved it, she knew her editor would decline it in favor of something that was making more of an impact within the community. And that was how Black is Gold Organization was born.

We are now a mentoring program that focuses on empowering young Black women and girls in high school and college throughout the United States. Our mission is to provide them with various opportunities, including college and career preparation, community service, social-emotional learning resources, and the expansion of their personal and professional networks. We aim to uplift and empower young women and girls through these avenues, fostering their growth and success.

Black is Gold Organization is empowering a generation of Black women and girls to shine brightly. Our vision is a world where every young woman has the confidence, opportunities, and support networks needed to realize her fullest potential. Through mentorship, education, and community engagement, we envision a future where Black excellence is recognized, celebrated, and uplifted, creating a brighter tomorrow for all.

What are the different programs under Black is Gold Organization?

I came up with the concept of the Girl Boss 101 Saturday Mentorship Program. It is tailored for young Black women in high school in the Chicagoland area, with a mission to empower them for college, future careers, and to foster servant leadership qualities. However, our approach goes beyond academic and career readiness. We believe in nurturing every aspect of our mentees’ development to ensure they emerge as well-rounded individuals, ready to take on the world in all its complexity.

Through a holistic mentorship approach, we address various dimensions of their growth. Monthly workshops cover topics ranging from college readiness and career preparedness to social-emotional learning and community service initiatives. This comprehensive curriculum is designed to equip our mentees with the skills, knowledge, and values they need to succeed in all facets of life.

Integral to our program is a focus on mental health and wellness. Recognizing the importance of emotional well-being and self-care, we provide our mentees with practical tools and strategies to manage stress, build self-esteem, and cultivate healthy relationships. By integrating these components into our program from its inception, we ensure that our mentees are not only academically and professionally prepared but also emotionally and socially grounded.

Our holistic mentorship approach aims to empower young Black women to thrive in every aspect of their lives. By fostering servant leadership qualities, we encourage them to not only pursue their own goals but also to give back to their communities and become the next generation of leaders who will make a positive impact in the world.

We also have Black is Gold University Program. Which was established with the purpose of providing a platform to enhance the professional and personal growth of Black college women, enabling them to achieve their utmost potential. Throughout their participation in the program, members are assigned a dedicated career mentor for a duration of up to a year. Additionally, they gain exclusive access to free career readiness and professional development workshops tailored specifically for participants.

Our program extends further by providing members with access to private networking events, creating invaluable opportunities to expand their professional connections. Moreover, participants can embark on a journey of growth and leadership development through ambassador roles designed to foster leadership skills.

As a holistic initiative, the program also nurtures engagement within the communities surrounding their college campus. This is facilitated through active participation in community service events and initiatives, encouraging our members to make meaningful contributions and create positive impacts beyond their academic pursuits. We offer our programming at Hampton University, Emory University, and Northern Illinois University.

What obstacles have you overcome in growing your organization?

One obstacle I’ve had to overcome is gaining access to funding. Black-led and Black-benefiting nonprofits face unique challenges such as access to a diverse number of funding sources. It’s even more challenging when you’re starting from scratch and aren’t very knowledgeable about grant writing and research. That’s why I’m grateful to my village and network for supporting me in searching for those resources.

As well as giving gratitude to Women Employed for honoring me as an Emerging Power Builder at their signature fundraising event, The Working Lunch. It allows me the opportunity to expand that network and village of people who may want to support Black is Gold Organization through donating, funding, volunteering, or just spreading the word. I’ll always say that I have the plans and the vision, I just needed the platform. And I’m grateful Women Employed is giving me a platform to educate even more people about Black is Gold Organization and the importance of creating safe spaces for Black women and girls.

There are so many women who look like me, with great ideas and visions, who simply don’t know where to start, or are ready to execute but don’t have the resources to do so. My hope and commitment are that as I continue to grow, I’ll lift as I climb, providing resources and platforms as much as I can. I also urge people in positions of power to bridge that gap and provide those same platforms and resources to Black women just like me who have the vision and talent to execute but need assistance in doing so.

What have been some of Black is Gold Organization’s success stories?

We have girls who have landed amazing internship opportunities, recent graduates from Kent State University, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Hampton University, and Northern Illinois University, and one of our mentees is working on her master’s in nursing at Johns Hopkins. Our girls have gone on to do great things after going through our programs. But these success stories aren’t just a one-way thing.

From my perspective, yes, we get them to college and help them find scholarships, but they also build community. A lot of the girls who have come out of our programs have found community in our organization and still talk to one another long after the programs have concluded. So that, too, is a success story.

What does it mean to be honored as Women Employed’s 2024 Emerging Power Builder?

It means a lot to me. As an Emerging Power Builder, it’s meeting me where I am currently. As a leader, I’m emerging, I’m pushing forward. I’m becoming a power builder who’s making an impact on young Black women and girls. That’s what it’s all about. I want to make sure they have access to resources, help them get full-time jobs, internships, scholarships, and provide them with mental health and wellness tools. I want to help provide access to workshops, where they can learn life skills, effective communication, and problem-solving.

Also, I want to educate them on the importance of giving back. I’m a true believer that if we don’t do the work and pour into our community, then who will? We can’t wait for someone to make that change. You have to be the person who’s willing to take the initiative and be the change that you want to see. I don’t want to be a complainer. I want to be the person who’s looking for ways to fix the problem.

How are you going ALL IN with Black is Gold Organization?

I’m going ALL IN by giving it my all. Right now is my chance to grow the seeds that I’ve been planting since I was younger and see them blossom. I don’t want to lose focus. I don’t want anything that isn’t in alignment with me fulfilling my purpose and making an impact on young Black women and girls. I’m very intentional right now, so everything must be aligned.

In the beginning, you said that 16-year-old you didn’t envision Black is Gold Organization where it is now. In what ways are you making younger you proud?

I think she would be happy to see that the seeds that have been planted are continuing to grow. Although they aren’t fully grown yet, they’re still growing, and even a piece of growth is better than none. I know she’s happy with how far we’ve come and where we’re headed. She’s proud of the impact we’re making.

To learn more about Amber N. Anderson and Black is Gold Organization, visit blackisgoldorganization.org.



Women Employed
She Says

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