The #BlackDesignVisionaries grant program officially launched today as part of a joint effort to amplify, center and invest in the Black design community. Founded with a mission to create an open, inclusive and safe space that’s inspiring for all, Instagram’s @design strives to uplift the emerging talent amongst Black designers whose work embodies the platform’s core design values.
“@design is committed to uplifting underrepresented voices and championing inclusivity and accessibility, which is why we’re delighted to launch #BlackDesignVisionaries,” Ian Spalter — Instagram’s Head of Design — said in a press statement. “We hope that the craft, passion, and creativity of our grant committee and partners, as well as Instagram’s design values, will inspire designers to share their dreams with us.”
The #BlackDesignVisionaries program will award three $10,000 Aspiring Designer Grants to Black designers between the ages of 18 and 30. One small Black-led design business — no more than 10 years in business — will also receive a special $100,000 Small Business Grant to power their creative ventures.
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Additionally, each grant recipient will also earn one year of personalized mentorship, along with regular check-ins and advice from a small team of mentors who will be chosen and supported by @design’s three partner organizations and grant committee — which includes:
- Justina Blakeney, Founder and Creative Director of Jungalow
- Ruth E. Carter, Oscar-winning Costume Designer
- Toni L. Griffin, Founder of urbanAC, Professor in Practice at Harvard Graduate School of Design and Director of The Just City Lab
- Sarah Elizabeth Lewis, Associate Professor at Harvard University and Founder of the Vision & Justice Project
- Rick Lowe, Artist, Professor at the University of Houston
- Bobby C. Martin Jr., Co-Founder of Champions Design
- Heron Preston, Artist and Designer
- Ian Spalter, Head of Instagram Japan
- Asad Syrkett, Editor in Chief, ELLE Décor
To help develop the grant program, Instagram’s @design worked closely with three Black-led organizations. Chicago Mobile Makers — which empowers youth to become change makers through design-focused skill-building workshops; The Hidden Genius Project — which offers training and mentorship for Black male youth in technology creation and entrepreneurship; and Inneract Project — which empowers Black, Latinx and other underrepresented students of color to access design education.
All three of these groups have been integral in helping create community and career paths for young Black designers. Their mission to advocate for more diverse representation amongst the fields of professional design aligns perfectly with the Brooklyn Museum and @design.
“Black culture and talent have a monumental influence in the design world, yet are often overlooked and undervalued. Our exhibitions and programs seek to engage audiences by uplifting the often underrepresented stories and narratives of art history,” Brooklyn Museum Director of Marketing, Laval Bryant-Quigley said in a statement. “We’re proud to partner with Instagram’s @design to create more inclusive opportunities to amplify more diverse voices in design.”
Applications for the #BlackDesignVisionaries grant program are open now until July 16. These applications will then be reviewed by a committee of trailblazing Black designers and design thought leaders.
Winners will be announced later this Fall.
For more information about the new grant program, click here.