Southern Black Girls and Women’s Consortium, Pete and Thomas Foundation Highlight Winners of #BlackGirlJoyChallenge Focused on Mental Health and Wellness

Special cycle of the #BlackGirlJoyChallenge ignites a movement that supports and celebrates mental health and wellness through the simple, yet powerful, act of spreading JOY!  

ATLANTA, April 3, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — The Southern Black Girls and Women’s Consortium (Southern Black Girls) and the Pete and Thomas Foundation, in partnership with Grammy award-winning musician, entrepreneur, and philanthropist Megan Thee Stallion, are thrilled to announce the winners of their special cycle of the #BlackGirlJoyChallenge spotlighting mental health and wellness! Initially launched on the “International Day of the Girl Child,” this past October through a special video announcement from Megan Thee Stallion, the challenge, which is also supported by NIKE, set out to empower and uplift young Black girls, gender-expansive youth and young women, between the ages of 12-24, across the southern United States to promote mental health and wellness through the celebration of joy! Now, after reviewing thousands of brilliant and heartfelt applications, 100 grantees received micro grants and have now completed their projects to spread joy! 


“One important revelation that has come from the work that we do is that JOY is a powerful catalyst for positive change,” shares Southern Black Girls Executive Director, Malikah Berry Rogers. “Selecting these remarkable winners for this special cycle of our #BlackGirlJoyChallenge has filled our cups with excitement and anticipation for that kind of change; especially because these young dreamers, through their heartfelt applications, have shown us the incredible potential of joy to transform communities, and even the world!” 

The #BlackGirlJoyChallenge was created by Southern Black Girls to introduce the concept of JOY as a vital component of mental health and self-care for young girls. The initiative is open to eligible applicants residing in the 13-state region within the southern United StatesAlabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, East Texas, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Virginiaand awards $550 micro-grants to applicants who have compelling and creative ideas to spread joy and positivity within their communities.

Applicants are required to describe their ideas for spreading joy with their communities for a chance to receive the monetary award. Once the submission period has ended, all applications are evaluated by the Southern Black Girls Youth Ambassadors and Wisdom Council committees, who select awardees based on their creative joy-spreading project ideas.

Previous awardees have organized a plethora of impactful events, including a drive-in movie experience during the pandemic, launched a program addressing period poverty, implemented a robotics teams for Black girls, hosted salon party to teach proper hair care and cool styling/braiding techniques, held a special “Paint Night” party to find joy through art, gathered support for a park restoration so that children have a clean and safe environment to play in, distributed “Blessing Bags” to unhoused people in need, and so much more!


ZaNaria Bowen
Age 24, Texas

ZaNaria created a #BlackGirlJoy Mental Health and Wellness Book Fair Extravaganza for her #BlackGirlJoyChallenge. The exciting event took place at a local Houston-area middle/high school and focused on creative wellness. Featuring book stations, Kahoot challenges, interactive activities and a DJ for the vibes, the experience became a secure, empowering and joy-filled environment for all who attended!

Watch ZaNaria’s JOY story HERE!

Milan Waller
Age 13, Georgia

Milan’s #BlackGirlJoyChallenge was the perfect tee-up for transformation. She hosted the “Winning When You Play Golf: How to Overcome Overthinking & Performance Anxiety When Golfing” half-day golf summit that was designed for physical wellness and the journey of resilience and self-discovery. After facing the intense anxiety of almost losing her mother to COVID-19, this winner found solace on the golf course, so she created the event to not only share her story, but to also help others overcome the same debilitations through yoga and mobility stretches, deep breathing techniques to calm nerves, and insights on preparing healthy snacks to support your wellness.

Watch Milan’s JOY story HERE!

Mila Marrero
Age 12, Virginia

Mila’s #BlackGirlJoyChallenge proved to be a heartwarming initiative with a mission to deliver hope and support. With a vision of developing a non-profit organization called MH Boxes, Mila set out to deliver special boxes filled with comfort and care to Black girls admitted to mental health facilities. These thoughtful boxes contained an array of items that have provided solace and encouragement during her own mental health journey, such as fidget toys, model magic, journals, and positive messages. Starting with the VCU treatment center, where she found support, this #BlackGirlJoyChallenge experience not only provided tangible comfort, but also empowered Black girls to voice their mental health journeys and inspire hope in others facing similar challenges.

Watch Mila’s JOY story HERE!

Kristin Hardy
Age 22, Arkansas

Kristin’s #BlackGirlJoyChallenge was designed to host mental health days at local libraries in her Arkansas hometown. In partnership with the Arkansas Chapter for Suicide Prevention, this effort was near and dear to Kristin because of her own struggles with depression. The event featured insightful presentations on recognizing warning signs of suicide and accessing help. Attendees received special mental health goodie bags, brimming with items designed to promote advocacy and healing, including journals, fidget toys, pens, stickers, wristbands, and informative cards. This amazing event gave the gift of joy to her community, ensuring that everyone has the tools to help themselves and others on their mental health journey.

Watch Kristin’s JOY story HERE!

For a full list of current winners and more details about the #BlackGirlJoyChallenge grant initiative, contact
, or call 334-694-8546 ext. 102.

For more information on the work and impact of the Southern Black Girls and Women’s Consortium, visit, or follow @SouthernBlackGirls on Facebook, and Instagram and @BlackGirlsDream on Twitter.

The Southern Black Girls & Women’s Consortium (Southern Black Girls) is coordinated entirely by a community of Black women in philanthropy, activism and girls’ work, who hold deep roots in movement-building throughout the southeast. The partnership recognizes their critical role and the importance of centering the lived experiences and leadership of those most impacted by deep-seated injustices. SBGWC consists of four anchor institutions including the Appalachian Community Fund, the Black Belt Community Fund, the Fund for Southern Communities and TruthSpeaks Innovation Foundation. For more information, visit:, or follow @SouthernBlackGirls on Facebook and Instagram, and @BlackGirlsDream on X.

The Pete and Thomas Foundation is a non-profit organization that was founded by Megan Thee Stallion and provides resources to effect meaningful and positive change in the lives of women and children, senior citizens and underserved communities across the globe. The organization focuses on three core sectors – education, housing, health and wellness – and is committed to supporting mission-aligned non-profit organizations, generating awareness around key campaigns and spearheading its owned and operated activities. For more information, visit, or follow @PeteThomasFdn on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and TikTok.

Candace Ledbetter, CNBetter Media
, 770-709-1509

Kayla Tucker Adams, CNBetter Media
, 214-403-9852

Didier Morais, Pete and Thomas –

SOURCE Southern Black Girls And Women’s Consortium