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Scholarships and career resources for architects of color

Professional groups and student initiatives making architecture a more diverse field

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in February 2017 and has been updated with the most recent information.

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 curbed@curbed.com 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, ARCHCareers, 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 Ford believes 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.

ArcPrep

The ArcPrep program at the University of Michigan’s Taubman College of Architecture is aimed at high school students interested in architecture from Detroit Public Schools. It is an intensive semester-long, college-level course that meets five days a week and introduces architecture, urbanism, and design-related fields through project-based work. The program also includes career exposure and counseling to help students prepare for college applications, portfolios, and post-college work.

Black Architects in the Making

Run by AIA Miami, this hands-on educational workshop focuses on educating African-American students about architecture and includes professional speakers.

Scholarships

AIA/Architects Foundation Diversity Advancement Scholarship

Established in 1969, this program seeks to provide educational funding to “not only to those youths in financial need, but to those who otherwise would not have other means to obtain a professional education.” More than 2,300 students from a minority race or ethnicity have taken advantage of this program since 1970, which awards a $4,000 renewable scholarship to at least three first- or second-year undergraduate students attending a NAAB program. The scholarship can be renewed for each year of the student’s program (up to five years).

ACE Mentor Program Scholarship

Registered ACE high school students are applicable for one of many scholarships and grants offered through this program. Local affiliate ACE programs have different scholarships and deadlines.

American Society of Indian Engineers and Architects Scholarship Program

ASIE, a Houston, Texas-based nonprofit organization, established their scholarship program in 1998. ASIE awards financial aid to students of Indian descent who live in the Houston area or have a parent or grandparent who is a member of ASIE. The amount and number of annual scholarships awarded depend on donations from contributors as well as sponsors. Recipients in 2016 received up to $1,000 each.

Asian American Architects/Engineers Foundation Awards

Nonprofit organization AAa/e Foundation offers scholarships in six categories: high school students scholarship, community college students scholarship, undergraduate students scholarship, postgraduate students scholarship, student loan support grant, and a university award. Applicants must be members of the AAa/e Association.

CBC Spouses Visual Arts Scholarship

The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation awards $3,000 to students with majors in the visual arts, including architecture. Eligible applicants must be currently enrolled or planning to be enrolled in the upcoming academic year as a full-time undergraduate student and have a minimum 2.5 GPA.

Gensler Diversity Scholarship

Gensler offers two U.S. scholarships annually, including the Diversity Scholarship, which awards African-American students enrolled in a U.S. not-for-profit educational institution beginning their final year of a NAAB-accredited architecture program. Recipients will win academic scholarships as well as summer internship opportunities.

Gordon Stafford Scholarship in Architecture

A total of five scholarships worth $3,000—$1,500 to the student and $1,500 to the school’s financial aid office—are available to minority students with a permanent California address. Applicants must be first-year new or transfer students pursuing a bachelor of architecture degree or a five-year master of architecture program from an NAAB-accredited school or college.

HEEF Architecture and Engineering Scholarship

This $3,000 scholarship is open to Orange County-based Latino/a high school students who have been accepted into an accredited four- or five-year program in architecture or engineering and who have a minimum 3.5 GPA. Applicants also have to be first-generation college students and come from a family with an income limit of $45,000.

Houzz Scholarship Program

Houzz offers four different architecture scholarships—Women in Architecture, Residential Design, Sustainable Residential Design, and Residential Construction Management—each for $2,500. Scholarships are open to current undergraduate or graduate students enrolled in interior design, architecture, landscape architecture, architectural engineering, or construction management programs.

Judith McManus Price Scholarship (urban planning)

Women and minority students enrolled in an approved Planning Accreditation Board program and who intend to pursue careers in planning are able to apply for this scholarship, which ranges between $2,000 to $4,000.

Landscape Architecture Foundation EDSA Minority Scholarship

This scholarship was established for minority landscape architecture students in their final two years of undergraduate study or those pursuing a graduate degree. Recipients are awarded $5,000.

National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Diversity Scholarship Program

This program helps members of underrepresented communities attend the National Trust’s annual conference, PastForward. Participants receive financial assistance, including complimentary registration and lodging at PastForward.

Robert P. Madison Scholarship in Architecture

Established in honor of the first African-American architect registered to practice in Ohio, this $1,000 scholarship is available to any African-American high school student or undergraduate enrolled in coursework at an accredited school of architecture, with a declared major in architecture.

SmithGroupJJR Diversity and Inclusion Scholarship Program

This $6,000 annual scholarship includes the opportunity for a paid internship at the firm’s Ann Arbor, Michigan office. Students will work side-by-side with practicing landscape architects, architects, engineers, and planners. Assignments will vary and include project research, site visits, computer production, design reviews, and assisting on marketing efforts. Candidates must be either African American, Hispanic, or Native American, and undergraduates must have at least junior standing.

Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Scholarship

Architecture firm ZGF, based in Portland, Oregon, awards $10,000 to one student in his or her final year at the graduate or undergraduate level in an NAAB-accredited architecture program. A summer internship with the firm is also offered to the scholarship recipient.

College & university organizations

American Institute of Architecture Students

A network of university-based groups promoting career opportunities, learning, and professional opportunities, AIAS hosts an annual conference and collaborates on the Freedom by Design community-service project, which provides construction and design assistance to low-income neighborhoods, as well as Americans with disabilities.

Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture

A clearinghouse for information on architecture, education, and careers, including a job board, this group supports a number of publications, conferences, and events that help both students and faculty network and pursue career opportunities. It also provides data around salaries and diversity.

National Organization of Minority Architecture Students

The campus version of the National Organization of Minority Architects. Its parent organization, NOMA, also hosts an annual student design competition; this year’s event takes place in Houston in October. If your campus doesn’t have a chapter, NOMAS offers information on how to get one started.

Professional organizations

National Organization of Minority Architects

Founded by 12 African-American architects in Detroit in 1971 following an AIA convention, this organization, which now has 25 local chapters across the country, was founded with the goal of championing diversity within the design professions. In addition to a wide list of local chapters and resources, NOMA maintains a job board,

American Institute of Architects

The country’s largest professional organization for architects offers a number of initiatives and programs to promote diversity within the industry. The Diversity Recognition Program “seeks to recognize architects, components, and others for exemplary commitment and contributions to diversifying the profession of architecture” and gives out awards at its annual Grassroots Leadership Conference.

In January, the organization’s Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Commission released a report on diversifying the profession and issued 11 recommendations, including engaging young students; creating equity, diversity, and inclusion scores and reports; and factoring that data into their reports.

American Society of Landscape Architects

Since 2012, the group has convened an annual diversity summit to discuss ways in which the profession can better reflect the diversifying country. Plans discussed at the 2016 event include creating scholarships for minorities and producing and promoting more case studies featuring minority practitioners.

Asian American Architects/Engineers Association

This LA-based national group, which leans heavily towards the west coast, hosts a job board, sponsors local events, and publishes a semi-regular blueprints newsletter.

The Rafala Green Fellowship: An Artspace Program

This Artspace fellowship is open to people of color and indigenous people interested in working in the fields of the arts, real estate, and community development. Named in honor of Rafala Green, an African American artist, community activist, and former Artspace board member who helped the organization make bridges into the Twin Cities African American community during the ’90s, the two-year fellowship will be awarded two four fellows who will work full-time at the Artspace headquarters in Minneapolis, Minneapolis, and support current projects. Each fellow will receive a $50,000 annual salary during the length of the fellowship, as well as a comprehensive benefits package.

—With research and writing by Selina Cheah