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Meet Shante’ Merida of Good G.R.A.C.E.

Today we’d like to introduce you to Shante’ Merida.

Shante’, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I am a writer and the Founder of the non-profit organization The Good G.R.A.C.E.

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others” is a quote that will forever be a guiding principle in my life. I always knew there was a synergy between my purpose and the happiness I gain from wanting to help and heal within the community, it just took me following the breadcrumbs of life to lead me to where I am today.

My father was in the military, so I was born in Germany before bouncing around and eventually growing up in Las Vegas. After high school, I started nursing school to further live out this dream or mission of wanting to help others, more specifically the youth. About halfway through the program, I realized that wasn’t the right lane for me and redirected my focus on other passions, such as writing and creative curation. I graduated from UNLV with a major in Business Marketing and a few years later, I moved to Los Angeles to open myself up to more opportunities within the arts and entertainment.

I started off connecting with anyone who was interested in just simply creating. I got into styling, modeling, and even event planning before I was offered a position as a Culture Curator at REVOLT TV. I’ll never forget walking into this high-rise building in the middle of Hollywood, surrounded by the most brilliant and inspiring league of creators, before being called into an interview with the now late, Andre Harrell. We talked about fashion, I played him some of my favorite indie artists, read our horoscopes and forgot we were even in the middle of an interview. Andre could make anyone feel like they’ve known him forever. When he found out I had the same birthday as Mariah Carey, he laughed and said “you’re hired.” From that point on, I hit the ground running. I was on red carpet premieres, press releases, front row at sold-out stadium shows, backstage at the biggest festivals, and overall a part of a resilient team of millennials that were on a mission to push the state of the music culture forward. REVOLT put me in places and spaces I would have never imagined. I am forever grateful for the life and times I shared with my first LA family.

After about four years of being on the Editorial team and two weeks before my 30th birthday, I found out I was pregnant with my first son. I always knew I wanted to be a mother, but you never know when that time will come. My entire life, my dream was to always open a spiritual art school for children in another country. I remember finding old school projects from when I was in elementary school in my mom’s keepsake box, with my plans to help children and building safe spaces around the world for kids to just be creatively free. What I didn’t know was that it was going to take the birth of my own child to ultimately push me into my higher purpose or vision.

I decided to shift my focus into an entrepreneurial way of living to balance my new mom-life, and from there, The Good G.R.A.C.E. was founded. As a means of therapy to restore resiliency and hope, The Good G.R.A.C.E. offers art as a healing anchor to those who have experienced neglect, abuse, mental illness, poverty, or creative suppression. By [G]iving, [R]eceiving, [A]nd, [C]reating [E]nergy, our community is dedicated to expanding the social expression and self-esteem within children. At our annual art retreats, we establish a safe and uplifting space for children to express their emotions in a completely free discovery process.

Honestly, The Good G.R.A.C.E. is my heart. It means so much to me because of what it stands for. I see and hear so many people, myself included, pulling back from what they truly desire in life because they were never championed at an early age to just be free and follow their creative curiosity. There are so many ways to get involved in our fight against humanity, and for me, I’ve found my part is to empower the youth.

Grateful to be on my life path and continuing to bloom every day.

Has it been a smooth road?
I don’t think roads are made to be smooth, but more so designed to teach you to just go with the flow. I’ve encountered all forms of obstacles, but the toughest one ironically was the fear and obstacles I was putting up for myself. Self-sabotaging is real. It took me a while to realize I was the one who needed to take a step back to really look at myself from a different perspective. Once you master the rule to not take things personally, it strips the defeated aspect away from obstacles and instead just alters your mind to go at it a different way.

Please tell us about Good G.R.A.C.E.
The Good G.R.A.C.E. is a creative community dedicated to expanding the social expression and self-esteem within children. As a means of therapy to restore resiliency and hope, Good G.R.A.C.E. offers art as a healing anchor to children who have experienced neglect, abuse, mental illness, poverty, and/or creative suppression. We believe to [G]ive [R]eceive [A]nd [C]reate [E]nergy for children to explore arts and spirituality is a way to help & heal.

We host quarterly “Plant Your Seed Fundraisers”, to emphasize the importance of being ‘rooted’ in the arts while growing a garden of dreams. This celebratory event of life, love, & unity, hosts a full day of painting with children, plant potting, yoga & meditation, community building, and an overall exchange of creative energy.

I’d say I’m most proud of our mentor team. Everyone is as passionate about the wellbeing of the future generation as I am, and they all have shown up for myself and the community in countless ways. They help me keep the pulse of the organization moving forward.

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
There will always be a need for humanity. Now, then and forever. I hope that in the next 5-10 years, my organization has continued to touch as many lives around the world and is recognized in art programs and schools. I’d also love to have opened the first Good G.R.A.C.E. Foundation Center.

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