Brandcenter Presents Three Endowed Scholarships in Support of a More Diverse Industry
The VCU Brandcenter announces three endowed scholarships aimed to continue the growth of a diverse, distinguished student population. The scholarships were initially funded by Brandcenter faculty and staff members, emphasizing the importance of expanded opportunities for diversity at the Brandcenter, as well as within the creative industries that Brandcenter students go on to impact.
The Brandcenter endowed scholarships for diverse students include:
Created to memorialize this pivotal moment in 2020 as the nation is recognizing long-standing injustices and demanding change, this scholarship will support graduates of an HBCU (historically Black college or university) or other students who allow Brandcenter to demonstrate a commitment to diversity.
Designed to improve access to a Brandcenter education, this scholarship supports talented, first-year students with financial need and promotes cultural diversity among our students. Recipients of this scholarship will be change agents who will improve the industries we serve.
In an effort to provide a climate of inclusion and address disparities for prospective Brandcenter students, this scholarship was established to ensure the Brandcenter can provide need-based assistance to diverse students. Agencies are encouraged to support this scholarship and actively partner with Brandcenter in a commitment to raise up a new generation of diverse, creative professionals and leaders.
The earnings from endowed scholarship funds will support students on an annual basis, indefinitely.
“We are committed to making the esteemed Brandcenter education available and accessible to a diverse student body,” says Vann Graves, Brandcenter Executive Director. “We intentionally recruit and graduate highly qualified professionals who will contribute to more inclusive advertising, branding, and creative industries.”
Professor Berwyn Hung started the 2020 Vision for Social Justice Endowed Scholarship in wake of the national reckoning with social inequities. “I wanted to create a scholarship to support and add more underrepresented voices at Brandcenter,” says Berwyn Hung, professor of creative. “When our students graduate and advance in leadership, they impact decision-making in the industry.”
Professor Caley Cantrell initiated the Agent of Change Endowed Scholarship with a creative spin on the name. “It’s a play on Marvel Comics Agents of Shield, who were superheroes. The real reason is that greater diversity within our program means there is an opportunity for our graduates to improve the industries we serve. Agents of change will be change agents.”
Brandcenter has already seen a number of generous contributions to the endowed scholarships, including a $15,000 donation from Team One USA.
“A more diverse and inclusive work environment isn’t just the ‘fair’ thing to do, it’s the ‘business-critical’ thing to do,” said Julie Michael, CEO of Team One. “Difficult marketing problems can and do get solved in more interesting ways when people with varying points-of-view, backgrounds and experiences come together. Additionally, having culturally-aware and diverse teams working on our projects helps ensure that the messages we send into the world, on behalf of our clients, include deep cultural insights, feature talent of all colors and dimensions, and share stories of a more progressive, compassionate and inclusive world.”
Brandcenter’s efforts to diversify its community are multifaceted. In November 2019, Brandcenter launched an intercollegiate partnership with Virginia Union University, a local HBCU in Richmond. Together with MullenLowe, Brandcenter created a sprint challenge wherein VUU students were mentored by second year Brandcenter students. Thanks to generous funding from the Brandcenter Director’s Council, the VUU students in 1st and 2nd place earned Brandcenter scholarships if they applied and were accepted to the Brandcenter. Both students applied, were accepted and plan to enroll at the Brandcenter for Fall 2020.
During the last three years, the Brandcenter has added more women and people of color to its faculty, staff, and Director’s Council, while welcoming a reputable host of industry professionals as Friday Forum speakers. In addition to these initiatives, the Brandcenter will welcome the most diverse class of students to date this fall.
The Brandcenter has made significant strides in its efforts to support diversity, but the journey ahead still has more work to be done. If you are in a position to do so, please consider donating to one of the following scholarships:
- Alumni are encouraged to support the 2020 Vision for Social Justice Endowed Scholarship or the Agent of Change Endowed Scholarship.
- Advertising and branding agencies are invited to partner with the Brandcenter to diversify the creative workforce and leadership by supporting the VCU Brandcenter & Rising Endowed Scholarship. Please contact Angela Bartee, Assistant Director of Development, to discuss donation options.
For scholarship questions or more information about donating, please contact Angela Bartee, Assistant Director of Development.