Scholarships and Career Resources for Students of Color

(via Curbed)

In reporting last year on the state of race and architecture, we attempted to focus on rooting out ways to help foster a more inclusive, diverse, and creative profession. Consider this resource list a tool to find and create such opportunities, and to make connections that benefit both aspiring architects and working professionals.

The programs below, from student summer camps to professional seminars, address both the pipeline problem in architecture and the historic lack of leadership roles for architects of color. This list of scholarships, mentor programs, volunteer opportunities, and professional organizations will always be a work in progress, and we’re keen to add more—so please send any noteworthy additions to or drop suggestions in the comments.

Student groups & youth programs

Project Pipeline

Sponsored and organized by the National Organization of Minority Architects, this summer camp gives minority youth insight and experience with architecture via workshops and activities led by professional volunteers. Those interested in attending can begin registration via email; camps are currently scheduled for New Orleans, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and Chicago.

The ACE (Architecture, Construction, Engineering) Mentor Program

The ACE Mentor Program provides pre-college students with real-world exposure to professionals, and has demonstrated great success in preparing minority students to study and practice architecture. The program is free of charge and offers scholarships to alumni.

In addition, the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture and the American Institute of Architecture Students both maintain exhaustive list of summer programs, many focused on high school students interested in the profession. Most programs offer some need-based scholarships and financial aid. For those considering higher education, the ACSA also hosts a Virtual Career Expo that links prospective students with university representatives.

Hip-Hop Architecture Camps

These one-week camps introduce youth to architecture, urban planning, creative place making, and economic development through the lens of hip-hop culture. Founder and instructor Mike Fordbelieves the hip-hop generation “will champion this new vernacular, and rely on our love for hip-hop coupled with our architectural knowledge, to build our communities and increase the number of minority practitioners.” Free and open to students ages 10-17 who complete the application process, the camps use hip-hop culture as an entryway to learn about S.T.E.A.M. (science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics) topics.

NAACP ACT-SO Initiative

ACT-SO—which stands for Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological, and Scientific Olympics—is a year-long achievement program put on by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. High school students work with mentors to develop projects in 29 competition areas, including architecture. Students can select up to three topics in which to compete. Competitions begin at a local level, with winners advancing to a national stage.

Design-Build for High Schoolers

(via doggerel)

by Zach Mortice

ACE Design-Build Mentees in Chicago

ACE Design-Build Mentees in Chicago

On a hot, sunny August morning on Chicago’s West Side, Matt Snoap, an architect with the firm bKL, is putting more than a dozen high school and early college students in place for a groundbreaking photo op on one of the city’s many abandoned freight rail lines. But unlike a traditional groundbreaking ceremony, there’s no professional construction crew to take over after the shutter clicks.

“Shovels in the ground!” Snoap shouts. “Now start moving dirt!” These students truly will be the ones to build their project to completion — and soon. They have only seven days to construct a shaded pavilion they designed for an urban farm.

Snoap directs the design-build initiative of Chicago’s ACE Mentor Program, which pairs high school students around the nation with architecture, construction, and engineering professionals. Local chapters offer after-school programs in which students work on a simplified architectural design project, culminating in a final “client” presentation to a board of ACE judges. Chicago’s design-build program takes things a step further, selecting a community nonprofit and enlisting students to work with it.

ACE Design-Build Mentees in Chicago Making the Pavilion

ACE Design-Build Mentees in Chicago Making the Pavilion

ACE Chicago Executive Director Pat O’Connell, who coordinates the chapter’s mentors (mostly volunteers), said the program is a way to pay expertise forward. “It’s a true investment in the future of their industry.”

More than 90% of ACE Chicago mentees are minorities from low-income backgrounds. O’Connell said exposing formative minds from these communities to architecture and engineering builds up a sorely needed pipeline. In a world of increasing diversity, these fields have remained demographically static. Only 18% of all licensed architects are women, and just 9% are minorities, according to the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards. The engineering community faces similar challenges: in 2011, the US Census Bureau reported that only 3.8% of civil engineers were African American, 7.2% Hispanic, and 13% female.

Mentee Presentation

Mentee Presentation

Both the after-school and design-build programs focus on building social capital rather than technical knowledge. Students learn about the basic functions of architects, engineers, and builders, improve their presentation skills, and practice working in a team; in the design-build track, they also get to construct what they design. There are some pretty significant material benefits as well: ACE Chicago has given out 139 internships and almost $1,300,000 in scholarships over its 16-year history.

Finished Pavilion

Finished Pavilion

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