Amber Koonce has been named one of Glamour Magazine's Top 10 College Women and dubbed The Social Entrepreneur.
Two years ago, Koonce, a public policy and African and Afro-American studies double major, volunteered in Ghana. “I’d been excited to go to a place where my natural hair and features would be embraced,” she says. But there she found women who were unhappy with their looks: “One told me that she aspired to marry a white man so her kids wouldn’t look like her.” Koonce had a theory why. “Ghanaian girls had blond-haired, blue-eyed dolls that didn’t resemble them at all,” she says. So when she returned to the States, Koonce founded BeautyGap, which ships black dolls to Ghana and Kenya to show children a new beauty ideal. By providing dolls of color for these young girls to adore, Beauty Gap seeks to promote self - love among girls of color in a world dominated by the Western standard of beauty.
She’s also supporting young people in another way—by working in juvenile detention centers as far away as Ghana and Scotland and as close to home as Durham, North Carolina, where she spends Saturday afternoons helping young offenders envision a future without crime.