America, My Oyster Association
Bea Gyimah M.A. is the President and Founder of the nonprofit organization America, My Oyster Association (AMOA). She grew up with her parents, Dr. Joseph Gyimah and the late missionary Lydia Gyimah, who emphasized the value of a college education and the importance of making contributions to the greater good. To do so, she earned her bachelor’s degree from LSU and her master’s degree from Texas A&M. Despite her own success, Bea still pulls motivation from her parents and their hard work.
“I believe in certain ways, my mother is proud of me, especially when I was named the 2022 Greater Capital Area Champion for Volunteer Louisiana Champions of Service for my youth empowerment and community outreach programs,” shares Gyimah.
After graduation, Gyimah wanted to continue giving back to the community, so in 2016 she started AMOA, a 501c(3) organization based on the idea “to preserve the diverse histories, recognize the various struggles, and celebrate the victories of all individuals residing in America.” Additionally, they encourage students and graduates to reach their full academic potential by looking past their current circumstances to embrace their education as their ticket to the common idea of the American Dream.
“One of the reasons the organization was named America, My Oyster Association was the adage ‘the world is your oyster.’ Despite the obstacles that exist in this country, America is still the proverbial oyster of ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,’” says Gyimah. “At AMOA, we believe that if an individual has integrity, empathy, tenacity, perseverance, and resiliency, he or she can become whoever they want in this country, and if not that, they may reach the second-best thing to it.”
AMOA has worked hard in recent years through community outreach and programs meant to support students and adults alike in their learning journeys.
One such program is “Building a Better America Today with AMOA,” where the organization partnered with the East Baton Rouge Parish Library system to promote professional development courses offered through their digital library. This initiative consisted of nearly sixty participants ranging in age from middle-school students to working adults. Through the program, participants received online certification in diversity, equity, inclusion, and empathy training. Most excitingly, the program has been recognized by Governor Jon Bel Edward’s office, Mayor Sharon Weston Broome’s office, and the volunteer organization Volunteer Louisiana.
Another initiative is “An Investment in STEM is an Investment in Me!” which is supported by a grant from Exxon Mobile that allowed the purchase of STEM Starter Series books. Coupled with partnerships with the Dufrocq School and a local Girl Scout troop, these books covering a wide range of topics were distributed to students through a weekly book club and sweetened by a free tour of the Louisiana Arts and Science Museum. By the end of the summer session, club members were able to showcase their STEM creations including moveable battery-operated robots and toy cars at “AMOA’s Big Science Day” hosted by the Main Library at Goodwood.
Of course, AMOA’s connections to the community as a whole are what make the nonprofit so impressive. At the tail end of last year, the Building A Better America Today program was chosen to receive donations from Belleza Affairs LLC’s Stop the Violence Holiday Gala due to its means of reducing violence in Baton Rouge.
Secondarily, their partnership with the Kendra Scott Store in Perkins Rowe for its third annual Kendra Gives Back event. Proceeds from the event will go toward expanding AMOA’s youth leadership development program.
AMOA has big plans for expansion this year, beginning with further modernizing the aforementioned youth leadership development program to include a virtual format. Secondly, they are working on a documentary series that showcases the victories and struggles faced by the graduating class of 2020.
To get involved in America, My Oyster Association and their mission to give back and support students, visit their website theamoa.org or follow them on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.