Monday, Harlem's Fashion Row and Gap Inc. announced the winners of their joint Closing The Gap initiative – a program that seeks to uplift the next generation of BIPOC leaders in fashion. By way of the program, the fashion departments of ten HBCUs will collectively receive $510,000 in financial awards.
"It is a great honor for us to partner with a global leader in the fashion world to kick off the inaugural awards ceremony that will turn into a yearly event. We are coming together as one to not only address pipeline issues of diversity and inclusion in the industry but also to help give them the tools and guidance that the next generation needs to take the fashion industry to new heights," said Brandice Daniel, Founder and CEO of Harlem's Fashion Row in a press release obtained by EBONY.
Among the winning institutions are North Carolina Central University, North Carolina A & T State University, Delaware State University, Howard University, Bowie State University, University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Tennessee State University, University of Arkansas Pine Buff, Clark Atlanta University, and Norfolk State University.
"As a company rooted in being Inclusive, By Design, we are guided by the belief that business can, and should, be a force for good. This extends not just to our employees and our customers but to the communities we serve," said Sarah Holme, Executive Vice President of Product Design & Development at Old Navy and Executive Sponsor of the cross-brand creative community across Gap Inc. "I look forward to working with Harlem's Fashion Row to not only support the rich, storied history of HBCUs but to change our industry for the better through cultivating pipelines to careers in fashion for Black creative talent."
In addition to the financial awards, students enrolled at the winning institutions will be receive mentorship and internship opportunities from Gap Inc. and ICON360, a non-profit organization and extension of Harlem's Fashion Row.