The F.I.N.D. (Families in Need of Direction) Design is a 501(c)(3) community-based organization founded by Kara James Johnson and Sharese Chapman in 2014. Both black women, who were Michigan natives, were frustrated and saddened by the lack of progress related to safe spaces for black girls and other girls of color in Middle Tennessee. As they saw it, this reality was representative of a bigger problem; the constant failure to understand and "see" black women and how racism, intergenerational trauma, and gender discrimination affect them.
Additionally, programs that did exist and posed as empowering and impactful for "at-risk" black girls often stemmed from Eurocentric perspectives that did not consider their specific needs. This framework sent a message that their blackness needed "fixing" as the curriculum focused on European standards that lead to exclusion, which affected their sense of worth and purpose. As a result of their findings, Sharese and Kara saw a huge opportunity to cultivate safe spaces for black girls and girls of color to "be" while feeling valued, supported, and empowered.
Kara and Sharese started on this journey in South Nashville, serving girls from the Napier and Sudukum community projects -two of the most challenging areas in the city. They invited 20 girls to participate in emotional support groups once a week where they could be heard and seen for who they were while given tools and resources to cope with their day-to-day survival. Before long, transformations occurred and were noticed by the girl's inner circle of family members, peers, and schools. The community itself outside of the girls began to shift. Before long, The F.I.N.D. Design was being sought after by community leaders and schools for its services. Through this experience, Kara and Sharese's theory was consistently proven; that wondrous things can happen when black girls and other girls of color are supported!
Since its inception, T.F.D. has served over 3000 girls and families in various programs, workshops, and community service initiatives.
The F.I.N.D. Design was formed to serve middle and high school black girls and other girls of color through culturally relevant African and African American-centric models that foster sensitivity and understanding to girls of color's unique needs. With an emphasis on girls that are high risk or have already interacted with the juvenile court system, T.F.D. partners with public school systems and courts to offer services that promote the healing and safety needed to mitigate the effects of intergenerational trauma and unhealthy responses to such trauma leading to mentally, socially, and economically healthy citizens.
Additionally, the organization focuses on undoing school "pushout" (termed coined by Dr. Monique Morris and award-winning author and social justice scholar to describe criminalization of black girls in schools) and the abuse to prison pipeline that overwhelmingly affects black and brown girls by driving them out of their schools into the justice systems because of adultification and direct and indirect trauma. The organization reiterates the notion that when a girl has a safe space that doesn't penalize her for who she is, a stronger sense of self and identity, support from the community, and an environment of learning and expression, she's permitted to be the "F.L.Y Girl" she was birthed to be; a champion for herself, her school, her communities, and especially for the girls that are coming behind her."
To empower girls of color to fly and be the voice that shifts both internal and external narratives surrounding their identity and value, through cultural expressions, positive connections, curative training, and advocacy.
For all girls to be heard, seen, valued, and supported.
The F.I.N.D. Design
2787 Smith Springs Road Nashville, Tennessee 37217
"In every community, there is work to be done. In every nation, there are wounds to heal. In every heart, there is the power to do it."
© 2019 The F.I.N.D. Design - All Rights Reserved.
I'm Bossy Summer Entrepreneurship & Leadership Camp was created through the partnership between The F.I.N.D. Design (Families in Need of Direction) and D.Y.M.O.N. (Dynamic Young Minorities of Nashville) organizations using a positive youth development approach. Supporting the economic empowerment and mental health and wellbeing of black girls and other girls of color through social entrepreneurship and leadership education for girls ages 11-15.