The Bryce Project
LaVon Curtis has only one requirement for the young ladies of The BRYCE Project: Come with an open mind and a desire to give back.
BRYCE, which is named for LaVon’s –year-old son, is an acronym for Bright Resilient Youth Committed to Enrichment.
“I wanted to try to instill in my girls what I would instill in my own child,” LaVon said in a phone interview.
The project actually began, she said, as part of her participation in the Parent Leadership Training Institute of Alexandria
“After that,” she said, “it grew into a world of its own.”
Now a 501c3 nonprofit, BRYCE serves girls ages 14 to 19, encouraging them to engage in their communities, while also fostering self-esteem, friendship, etiquette and social-emotional skills. LaVon said she was inspired by her nieces and nephews.
“They were pretty selfish,” she shared, “and in their minds, the world revolved around them. I didn’t like it. I wanted them to become more involved in the community. I wanted them to be more aware of what is happening outside their little world.”
Indeed, community service is a vital part of The BRYCE Project. The girls of BRYCE have tutored at local elementary schools, completed the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, and volunteered at So Others Might Eat, to name a few.
“They didn’t realize people actually sleep on the streets,” LaVon said. “One of the girls cried.”
One of LaVon’s nieces, Kiana Jones, 16, said that participating in The BRYCE Project has taught her to count her blessings. “Not everyone has the chances I have had.”
The group has also allowed the girls to form friendships with peers they might otherwise not know well. The participants, LaVon pointed out, are a diverse group of young women.
“They’re all individuals, but when we come together, they have a great cohesion among them.”
They are also eager for leadership, and the desire for autonomy is more than welcome, as far as LaVon is concerned.
“They’ve exceeded my expectations,” she said. “I don’t feel like I do much. I feel like they do it all. They’re not afraid to lead… and I love it.”