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As a female Eagle Scout, trailblazer devotes her project to women

Student Leader: Kimani Brame

Kentwood  — As other scouts were building birdhouses, organizing book drives and setting up benches to earn their Eagle Scout badges, East Kentwood High School sophomore Kimani Brame was organizing something unique to earn her own badge.

No, that’s not a typo — her. 

“My Eagle Scout project was something that definitely has not been seen before in scouting,” she said. “I designed and organized a feminine hygiene closet for the Women’s Resource Center, which included little kits with pads, tampons and feminine wipes.”

Kimani and her friend and troop-mate, Phoenix Moyer (a junior at Grand River Preparatory High School), are the first Black female Eagle Scouts in Michigan, a rank they earned as members of Scouts BSA (soon to be known as Scouting America). Kimani’s Eagle Scout ceremony was held in early April at Brown-Hutcherson Ministries in Grand Rapids. 

“I don’t think feminine products should cost money, and I thought it was important to do (the closet) as an Eagle project because … I wanted to target something toward women, as a woman in scouts,” Kimani said. “I felt the need to help women in my Eagle project to truly represent who I am as a person and who I am as a scout.”

Kimani’s teachers and peers say she’s a leader in the school and community. Along with scouting, she is an AP ambassador, encouraging students to take Advanced Placement courses to increase diversity in those courses. She plays alto sax in the jazz band and is in Model United Nations

‘I felt the need to help women in my Eagle project to truly represent who I am as a person and who I am as a scout.’

— East Kentwood sophomore Kimani Brame

Outside of school, she serves on the Grand Rapids Community Foundation’s Youth Grant Committee and the Greater Grand Rapids Chapter of Jack and Jill of America.

Friend and sophomore Mariah Wright said Kimani represents East Kentwood well as a student.

“Kimani is one of those people you can go to if you need to talk about absolutely anything,” Mariah said. “She is also always willing to help others along to bring them up with her. I feel like she is a great representative of our community and what our community strives to be.”

Representing Black and Female Scouts

BSA started allowing girls to join in 2019, when Kimani and Phoenix officially joined as Webelos, which stands for “We’ll be Loyal Scouts” and is a transition rank between Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts. Since then more than 361,000 female participants have joined the program, currently representing nearly 16% of total membership, according to a press release from BSA.

Kimani was already familiar with scouting; her parents, Tracey Brame and Kenyatta Brame, started Troop 258 when Kimani was young for her older brother, Kamau, who is also an Eagle Scout. Her two boy cousins also joined.

“They wanted my brother to be involved in scouts, but all of the troops in the area were majority white, and my parents didn’t want my brother to feel left out,” she said. 

East Kentwood High School sophomore Kimani Brame is one of the first two Black female Eagle Scouts in Michigan (courtesy)

When joining became an option for Kimani, the family established Troop 8258, led by Tracey Brame. 

“Some of the highlights of being a scout are learning life skills like cooking and swimming, emergency preparedness and First Aid, personal management, personal fitness …” Kimani said. “I enjoyed going to camp and being with my troop.”

While camping, she often noticed that her family’s troops were the only majority-Black troops there.

“I think Black students need to be represented everywhere they want to be. They should not feel left out or underrepresented,” she said. “It’s so important to learn these tools (skills taught in scouting) in life. Black scouts and female scouts shouldn’t be left out.”

Having made it this far, Kimani feels passionate about representing girls in scouting.

“I am fortunate that the boys in our co-troop situation were very welcoming, especially because my brothers and cousins were a part of it. I never felt left out by them … but it’s still different being a girl.

“Scouting has helped me feel more comfortable when I am the only person who looks like me,” she added. “It has taught me that it is OK to be the only person that looks like you, but it’s also OK to want to have other people who look like you … in these types of situations.” 

Character and Integrity

Earning the title of Eagle Scout involves earning 22 merit badges, including 14 specifically for the Eagle rank, and putting in many volunteer hours. 

Kimani didn’t realize she and Phoenix were the first Black female Eagle Scouts until her ceremony, which was attended by U.S. Rep. Hillary Scholten, State Rep. Phil Skaggs, Kent County Commissioner Lisa Oliver-King, and representatives for Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss and Governor Gretchen Whitmer. 

While she’s proud of her hard work, Kimani said the ground-breaking accomplishment was too long in coming: “I feel sad that we had to (achieve it) in 2024. There should have been much more before us.” 

Freshman English teacher Stevie Combs wrote Kimani a tribute letter for her accomplishment, calling it “a testament to (her) character and integrity.” 

“Your sense of responsibility to others is what makes you such an important part of any community you are a part of or move into in the future,” Combs wrote in part. “You make a difference. You help others to feel seen.”

Phoenix Moyer, left, a junior at Grand River Preparatory High School, and Kimani Brame have been Boy Scout troop mates since 2019 and moved up the ranks together (courtesy)

Kimani hopes to pursue a career in STEM after high school, perhaps in the medical field. She plans to major in biomedical engineering in college. 

She also plans to continue to earn badges and be involved in scouting. 

To other girls interested in scouting, she offers this advice: “Don’t be afraid if you are the only girl. The right group of people will accept you for who you are. If you are the only girl, encourage other girls to do it.”

Read more from Kentwood: 
Teacher brings wildlife to his students, then lets them explore
Parade of Nations is celebration in diversity

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Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese is managing editor and reporter, covering Kentwood, Lowell and Wyoming. She was one of the original SNN staff writers, helping launch the site in 2013, and enjoys fulfilling the mission of sharing the stories of public education. She has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers, On-the-Town Magazine and Group Tour Media. Read Erin's full bio


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