This New Opportunity Could Be The Hope Student Artists Need

An Example of Student Artist Waverly Johnson's Work
Waverly Johnson.

Hope can be a tricky thing for student artists seeking opportunity. College education costs an average of over $20,000 a year. That makes it harder than ever to graduate without a mountain of student debt. It also makes the competition fierce for jobs that will make that educational investment worthwhile. And it sets an often-too-high bar that excludes talented people living with limited financial resources. However, a bold new partnership between School of Visual Arts (SVA) and advertising/design agency Deutsch New York will offer new reasons for student artists to be hopeful.

They are launching a program called Fund the Change. It will support incoming students studying design or advertising at SVA. Fund the Change will combine scholarship, mentorship and internship. Ultimately, the program will provide a total of $80,000 in support to two students throughout their four years at SVA. (That’s $10,000 per year per student.) The organizations say this novel combination of financial support, education, guidance and practical experience makes the program the first of its kind.

An example of Student Artist Michael Barclay's Work
Michael Barclay.

Supporting Student Artists from Underrepresented Backgrounds

Deutsch NY conceived the program to bring more diverse talent to the world of advertising. According to the World Advertising Research Center less than 6% of that industry identifies as Black or African American. “Our mission is simple: to strengthen our industry by investing in future leaders who come from historically underrepresented backgrounds,” says Val DiFebo, CEO of Deutsch New York. 

Fund the Change will recognize students positioned to make an impact in design, marketing or advertising. The program will create a launchpad for the careers of aspiring professionals who can offer varied cultural perspectives and ideas.

“Experience helps on the path of opportunity,” says Dan Kelleher, Chief Creative Officer of Deutsch NY. “We’ll help establish a network of connections, provide mentorship, support opportunities, and continual feedback to help them get that first job, that next assignment, promotion or account.”

An example of student artist Waverly Johnson's work
Waverly Johnson.

“Anything is possible when talent is supported and nurtured,” says Gail Anderson, chair of SVA’s BFA Design and Advertising programs at SVA. She is uniquely qualified to understand how life-altering such paths to opportunity can be. That’s because she was a student artist of color at SVA. “Thanks to our friends at Deutsch, new doors will open for the next generation of creative professionals.”

“We knew SVA was the right partner for us,” DiFebo continues. In addition, she hails the program for “bridging the gap between the classroom and agency experience.” Together, she adds, “we will be a catalyst for our next generation.”

An example of student artist Michael Barclay's work
Michael Barclay.

Who Will Fund the Change Be Funding First?

Waverly Johnson of Brooklyn, NY and Michael Barclay of Chicago, IL will be the first student artists to participate in Fund the Change. SVA and Deutsch NY chose them from a pool of 40 qualifying applicants.  The organizations note both Johnson and Barclay show exciting promise and sharp design instincts. These student artists will also receive the prestigious Silas H. Rhodes Scholarship, a merit-based award named for the founder of SVA.

“I am so excited for the opportunity to work in a creative environment gaining real-life experience,” says Waverly Johnson. “I’m looking forward to learning all I can from the professionals at Deutsch NY to build my design career.” 

“I am very thankful to be chosen for the Fund the Change scholarship and mentorship,” adds Michael Barclay. “I’m looking forward to gaining experience in the industry as I continue to hone my skills. I can’t wait to learn from both SVA and Deutsch NY!”

Johnson and Barclay are slated to begin their Fund the Change experience in September of 2021. It is their work that you can see illustrating this piece.

Interested in stories about studying design? Check out these tips to getting the most out of architecture school.

Paul Hagen is a writer and editor for aspire design and home magazine.

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