Taylor Culliver is not a small thinker. He’s an Ivy League graduate with professional stops at Forbes and digital marketing agency Polyphonic & Co. Now, he’s at Greenville creative agency Brains on Fire. Thinking small is not in Culliver’s repertoire.
That’s why you might be taken aback when you hear the scope of Brother Box, the nonprofit Culliver founded. Its primary output into the world is objectively small: an orange-and-teal cardboard mailer about the size of a small USPS flat rate box. Inside are equally small items: a pair of socks, a rolled-up necktie, a paperback book, travel-size hygiene products, a pocket U.S. Constitution, an ACLU Know Your Rights card. It’s just a care package. But a small thing can be a big idea.
In November 2016, Culliver was an undergrad at the University of Pennsylvania and wanted to create meaningful change. “I remember this collective call to action to be a part of a movement,” he says. “I wanted to start something that could be a small part of making the world just a little bit better.”
By 2018, that impulse had coalesced around what would become Brother Box: care packages for Black boys in his hometown of Bay Minette, Alabama. “I wanted these care packages to be a testament to being authentic and knowing you have someone in your corner. I wanted to make sure that Black kids feel that they’re important, that they matter, and that they should have the license to explore whatever talents and curiosities they have,” he says.
In the two-and-a-half years since those first care packages were delivered in Bay Minette, Brother Box has raised more than $100,000 and distributed more than 3,500 Brother Boxes across the country, including a recent partnership with the United Way of Greenville County.
Brother Box grew out of a fraught moment in American history, but it’s also a reflection of Culliver’s own upbringing. Making a conscious decision to live authentically was how Culliver navigated the pressures and expectations of being a Black kid: instead of trying to fit into the boxes others made for him, he defined who he was for himself. That’s what Brother Box seeks to do: make it just a little bit easier for other Black boys to explore their potential the way Culliver was able to. “You’re not going to change a person’s life with one simple care package, but in that moment, it will matter to them and it will be impactful,” he says.
Ultimately, the big idea behind Brother Box isn’t care packages. It’s what those packages represent: the ability for small gestures to have outsized impact. It serves as a timely reminder in a world beset with challenges. “We all have a part to play, and sitting out isn’t an option,” Culliver says. “I just want people to realize there are all these small actions we can take throughout our lives to make sure we’re leaving the world a better place than we found it.”
For more on Brother Box, visit brotherbox.org
Photography by Will Crooks.