New Initiative from the Social Justice Center Initiative at FIT Offers BIPOC Students the Opportunity to Pursue Paths in Fashion and the Creative Industries
Today, the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) of the State University of New York (SUNY) announced they have welcomed the first cohort of Social Justice Scholars, a program of the Social Justice Center at FIT.
The 11 first-semester students were selected to receive full scholarships provided by Brett Johnson, Capri Holdings, Carolina Herrera, and Ralph Lauren. The students, who graduated from high schools across New York State, are majoring in disciplines like Advertising and Marketing Communications, Fashion Business Management, Fashion Design, and Textile/Surface Design.
The Social Justice Scholars Program will provide early exposure and personalized guidance to BIPOC students as they explore careers covering both the design and business sides of the creative industries. As Social Justice Scholars at FIT, the students will receive scholarship support enabling them to earn their bachelor’s degree. In addition, the program will support students’ academic and career tracks with opportunities for internships and mentorships with their respective sponsors, career placement, as well as paid apprenticeships upon graduating from FIT.
Launched in December 2021, the Social Justice Scholars Program was developed as part of the Social Justice Center at FIT (SJC), a first-of-its-kind higher education initiative established to increase opportunity and accelerate social equity within the creative industries for the BIPOC community. The SJC was designed to harness the powerful link between education and industry in order to change the corporate culture–in companies large and small, in design studios as well as in business offices–that stands in the way of access and equity. The center will work to confront systemic barriers across the whole career life stage by creating a pathway that includes middle and high school introductions to creative industry careers and college opportunities; the SJC Scholars Program for FIT students; and continuing education and career support for BIPOC professionals through FIT’s Center for Continuing and Professional Studies and School of Graduate Studies. The SJC has been established through the commitment of founding partners Capri Holdings, PVH, and Tapestry.
“FIT is internationally recognized as a leader in career education for the creative industries,” said FIT President Joyce F. Brown. “As a leader, it is vital that diversity, equity, and inclusion remain at the forefront of our institutional values. We are committed to providing an inclusive experience to all students and we are elated to welcome the first SJC scholars this fall. This scholarship program is just one component of the SJC, which is working to eradicate the obstacles faced by BIPOC individuals, and it is a testament to the meaningful change taking place within the industry.”
In addition, FIT also announces the appointment of Nicole Finigan Ndzibah as executive director of the Social Justice Center at FIT. Known for supporting the advancement of women and all BIPOC individuals, she has integrated a commitment to social justice through her career and volunteer activities. Most recently at Tommy Hilfiger, Ms. Finigan Ndzibah was a retail business trainer and, as a business resource group leader, she was instrumental in implementing professional development programs for Black employees. She has also held management roles at Macy’s and has been an adjunct member of the faculty at both FIT and LIM for the past eight years teaching Fashion Business Management courses. She has led community service, philanthropic, civic engagement, and mentoring activities aimed at empowering youth through her work with Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and Jack and Jill of America, Inc.
Recruitment is already underway in a national search for the 2023 class of Social Justice Scholars. To learn more about the Social Justice Center at FIT and for ways to get involved, contact SocialJusticeCenter@fitnyc.edu or visit socialjusticecenter.fitnyc.edu/.
A part of the State University of New York, FIT has been a leader in career education in art, design, business, and technology throughout its history. Providing almost 9,000 students with an uncommon blend of hands-on, practical experience, theory, and a firm grounding in the liberal arts, the college offers a wide range of affordable programs that foster innovation and collaboration. Its distinctive curriculum is geared to today’s rapidly growing creative economy, including fields such as computer animation, toy design, production management, film and media, and cosmetics and fragrance marketing. Internationally renowned, FIT draws on its New York City location to provide a vibrant, creative community in which to learn. The college offers nearly 50 majors and grants AAS, BFA, BS, MA, MFA, and MPS degrees, preparing students for professional success and leadership in the new creative economy. Among notable alumni in fashion are Calvin Klein, Michael Kors, Norma Kamali, Reem Acra, Brian Atwood, Stephen Burrows, Dennis Basso, Francisco Costa, Nanette Lepore, Bibhu Mohapatra, Ralph Rucci, John Bartlett, Peter Do, and Michelle Smith. Other prominent graduates include Leslie Blodgett, creator of bareMinerals; international restaurant designer Tony Chi; and Nina Garcia, editor in chief, Elle.