Interview with Vanessa Nelson, Founder & CEO of Young Black & Brilliant

Isabel Franco  //  Feb 22, 2023

Interview with Vanessa Nelson, Founder & CEO of Young Black & Brilliant

In support of Black History Month and as part of our commitment to provide access to books and crucial resources, the Scholastic Possible Fund has donated 1,000 books to Young Black & Brilliant (YB&B) on the recommendation of our Black Employee Network ERG. YB&B is a non-profit organization focused on fostering personal growth and positive social interactions amongst youth of color through literature discussion and social events.

To learn more about YB&B, read our interview with Founder & CEO Vanessa Nelson.


What is the mission and vision of Young Black & Brilliant (YB&B)?

Our mission is to foster personal growth and positive social interactions through literature, discussions, and social events.

We envision creating inclusive environments where youth can foster healthy peer-to-peer relationships, develop social skills through literacy, and authentically engage without judgment or pressure. We strive to build confidence in future leaders.


YB&B offers Book Clubs, activities, mentorship, and community engagements that YB&B youth can attend. What are the main objectives for each one and what efforts go into building the programs?

YB&B offers a variety of instrumental and enrichment activities with the intention to improve academic performance, develop soft and hard skills for personal and professional development, empower innovation and critical thinking, and boost confidence and self-esteem. 

We discuss relevant issues, trends and social justice concerns pertaining to black and brown youth in today’s culture. Activities are created to align with the themes or topics of books read by the members.


Our mentorship program is still in planning stages; however, volunteers are onboarded, and assist in facilitating weekly sessions, lead literacy circles, and connect with members one-on-one during the weekly book program. The purpose of mentors is to create an in-depth connection, support self-discovery and mental health, and provide accountability. There is value in connecting and support, and it’s an additional service for members as they navigate their teenage years into young adulthood. 

YB&B also establishes partnerships with community organizations and participate and support community events quarterly. Community engagement supports YB&B’s vision to build confident leaders and foster healthy relationships. YB&B partners with community organizations to provide social and volunteer events for members to participate quarterly. Participating in community events exposes youth to community-led initiatives, supports the development of interpersonal skills, and assists in fostering positive relationships amongst peers and with community members. 


Scholastic is donating 1,000 books to the youth in YB&B. How will the books be used to help enhance their literacy skills while also cultivating a love for reading?

The donation of 1,000 books provides access to diverse literature genres and authors. This level of access to books will expand their perception, imagination and creativity. This donation will also offset the cost of purchasing books, allowing the funds to be used in other programs or services in YB&B.


It has been two years since YB&B was established in 2021. How do you see the nonprofit organization expanding its impact on youth in communities?

We envision expanding YB&B by partnering with secondary institutions, offering YB&B as an alternative or after-school program; developing small groups in neighboring counties; partnering with colleges and universities to offer credits through volunteering. 

How can people get involved with YB&B?
People can visit our website to view past and upcoming events, and sign-up. We’re always looking for support and partners by parents, organizations, and community members. Check out a news briefing on Young Black and Brilliant Book Club.