N.C. A&T Fashion Program Receives $100,000 Award from GAP, Icon 360

By Lydian Bernhardt / 06/30/2021 College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, Family and Consumer Sciences

EAST GREENSBORO, N.C. (June 30, 2021) – North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University’s Fashion Merchandising and Design Program received a $100,000 award from clothier The Gap and Icon 360, a nonprofit launched in 2020 to support designers of color.

The award comes as part of their “Closing the Gap” initiative, which provides financial support to fashion programs at historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs). The award is the initiative’s largest, and one of only two made at that level nationwide.

“This generous award from GAP and Icon 360 will support the fantastic work of our Fashion Merchandising and Design Program,” said Valerie Giddings, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences. “It will allow us to strengthen the curriculum and provide experiences to enhance the career readiness of students who we are preparing to be leaders in a global industry.”

The program’s faculty, including associate professor Devona Dixon, Ph.D., were awarded the funds in a competitive process after supplying information about the program’s mission, goals and achievements. The award was announced after an interview with a panel that included Gap representatives, the editor of Ebony magazine, the Harlem Fashion Row CEO Brandice Daniel and other industry leaders. Daniel also started the Icon 360 fund to help provide visibility and financial support to Black and indigenous designers, and people of color in the fashion industry, to shine light on the talent and creativity of those communities.

“N.C. A&T won this award because of their impressive application,” Daniel said. “We saw that they have been doing well with their existing resources and were convinced that they will be good stewards and use the grant to further advance their fashion program.”

The award, one of the largest in the program’s history, will be used in a variety of ways: purchasing updated technology, including new computers and monitors; purchasing new teaching tools, such as dress forms; and providing funds for faculty’s professional development.

A large part the funds will be set aside for student academic and travel scholarships for selected students to go on a “domestic fashion study tour” to include New York, the nation’s fashion capital, and possibly a trip to Europe.

“We hope to expand students’ industry exposure and help facilitate impactful experiences that will broaden their horizons and allow them observe the inner workings of the industry,” said Dixon. “By going to New York or to Europe, our students can make connections between their classwork and what’s really going on in the industry.”

Another portion of the funds will support student scholarships unique to the fashion program.

“Family and Consumer Sciences offers scholarships across the department, but this will be one that is exclusively for students in the fashion program,” Dixon said. “We want these opportunities to push students to be even more involved, even more participatory, and work even harder.”

This is the second recent award for the Fashion Merchandising and Design Program. Popular retailer Fashion Nova and rapper Megan Thee Stallion surprised the program earlier this spring with a donation of $25,000 through the company’s philanthropic arm, Fashion Nova Cares, and the rapper’s “Women on Top” philanthropy.

“We were not only impressed with the growth of N.C. A&T’s fashion department but felt they had a strong mission and very clear objectives for the future of the school,” said Keisha Golding, head of community belonging for Gap Inc. “Their classroom experience and curriculum align with our scholarship goals. And as they continue to invest in advanced software technology to support the growth of their students, they outlined an effective use of our scholarship funds that will provide slight advancements in the classroom to help support the success of their students. We look forward to beginning our relationship with this top HBCU and supporting their success and growth.”

Media Contact Information: jmhowse@ncat.edu

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