By Megan Kirk
American Express has announced the names of 100 Black women business owners selected as a part of their 100- for-100 program. Working in conjunction with IFundWomen of Color, a capital-raising platform that targets women of color, the initiative awarded the entrepreneurs $25,000 dollar grants and 100 days of support through business education, mentoring, marketing and virtual networking.
Detroit native Brittany Rhodes is among the women selected. Through her program, Black Girl MATHgic, Rhodes is helping young Black girls conquer math. The first of its kind, the monthly subscription box is curated to help fight against math anxiety and encourage math readiness.
“My boxes tackle the math that is presented in the third to eighth grades. It is around eight-years-old when a girl starts receiving negative messages around math,” Rhodes explains. “Girls having confidence issues, not ability issues, but the confidence to do the work.”
Launched in June of 2019, the Black Girl MATHgic subscription boxes, which cost $39.95 a month, contain at least one screen-free activity, allowing children with no internet or computer access the opportunity to take advantage of the material.
“We have to make sure our kids have the full picture,” Rhodes says.
Inside the box is a real-world math activity book created by Rhodes, chapter books about mathematicians, positive affirmations, a guide to assist parents who are guiding their children through the learning experience and a custom sticker sheet that depicts the featured woman mathematician of the month.
“We want parents to feel empowered. I always tell the parents they don’t have to be a math whiz. We work with a local Detroit artist who creates the images for the stickers. Some of the girls also put the positive affirmations in their rooms or their bookbags where they can see it,” Rhodes shares.
Rhodes creates math lessons children can apply in everyday life, no matter their race. Looking to encourage education through the application of math, Rhodes wants to help children become prepared to solve real-life mathematical situations.
“We have boys who have received the box too. Every box has a real-world theme and I feature a Black female mathematician every month. I find these women myself and they all have at least one advanced math degree,” Rhodes shares.
Not exclusive to Michigan, the Black Girl MATHgic is available nationally. With plans to expand its reach, the boxes are gaining popularity and have also been sent internationally.
“We have shipped over 1500 boxes to over 35 states, including Utah, Washington, California and Georgia, and we have recently started quietly shipping to Canada,” Rhodes says.
Wanting to assist hard-hit Black women-led businesses, the 100 for 100 campaign is a part of American Express’ commitment of a $1 billion to provide equal opportunity and to encourage diversity in the business sector. Prior to the pandemic, Black women founded 763 new businesses per day, according to a report from State of Women-Owned Business by American Express.
Recipients of the grant were surprised to learn they had been selected by American Express and IFundWomen. Previously working with IFundWomen of Color, Rhodes was hand-picked from a pool of Black female entrepreneurs to take part in the program.
“I had been applying for pitch competitions and grants before I launched Black Girl MATHgic. I did not apply for the American Express program. I received an email from them because my information had already been in the system because I won another grant through the IFundWomen campaign,” Rhodes explains. “We had a Zoom call where I was told that I had actually been selected as a recipient of the grant money.”
With the grant money, Rhodes plans to take her business to the next level and continue developing and evolving the brand.
“I am so honored and grateful to be chosen as a 100 for 100 program recipient! This funding and education will help us grow our network and broaden our reach, build out our team so that we can effectively manage all of our projects, increase our knowledge in critical growth areas, and accelerate the impact of our work of building math confidence in our next generation,” Rhodes shares. “We are pumped!”
With love for her hometown, Rhodes hopes to continue to inspire and shift the narrative about Detroit.
“I have a need for people to know this is what you can do in the city of Detroit,” Rhodes says.
For more information or to subscribe to Black Girl MATHgic, visit their website at BlackGirlMATHgic.com.