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.

November Architecture Scholarship Round-up: Diversity

From tuition to model supplies, architecture school costs add up. StudyArchitecture scanned the internet to bring you the very first edition of the “Architecture Scholarship Round-up” to help you find the funding opportunities that can help you afford school. The November Round-up focuses on diversity scholarships. Good luck!

The Diversity Advancement Scholarship
Deadline: January 17th, 2018 11:59pm Eastern

Architecture Foundation

AF is looking for minority students whose imagination and design thinking will influence the future of the built environment and the architecture profession. Eligible students must be a US citizen, have a minimum 3.0 GPA, and be:

  • a high school student planning to enroll in a NAAB-accredited architecture degree
 program; or,
  • a rising second-year college student in a NAAB-accredited architecture degree program; or,
  • a technical school or community college student who has completed high school or its equivalent and intends to transfer to a NAAB-accredited architecture program

NAAB-accredited degree programs may be a five-year Bachelor of Architecture degree, or a four-year pre-professional bachelor degree followed by a Master of Architecture degree. Scholarships may be renewed for up to 5 years (up to a $20,000 total award—multiple scholarships are available).

  1. Review the eligibility requirements.
  2. Complete an online application by January 17, 2018.
  3. Upload all application materials including:
    • resume
    • personal essay
    • two letters of recommendation
    • two examples of your creative work
    • estimated college expenses (requires FAFSA)

2018 Gensler Diversity Scholarship 
Deadline: December 10th, 2017

Gensler believes diversity ignites innovation in design. Through both shared and divergent perspectives, we enrich our work and our practitioners’ careers. We believe in bringing people of diverse backgrounds, experiences, and points of view to work at our fi rm, and we are committed to helping young design professionals find their career paths with Gensler.

Eligibility: Underrepresented or minority students are welcome to apply. Students who are enrolled in a U.S. not-for-profi t educational institution and are beginning their fi nal year of a NAAB-accredited architecture program in the Fall of 2018 are eligible to apply.

  • Resume
  • Letter of nomination from dean or chair of academic program
  • One advanced-level architecture project with written description (500 words and 10 pages, maximum). Work done with a single partner may be submitted, but it must include a description of the applicant’s specific contribution and a letter of support from the applicant’s collaborative partner.

Check back next month for more funding opportunities!

Building Diversity Within Austin's Architecture Community


When you think of architecture, you probably think about the style and functionality of a building. You may not always think about the people who drew up the plans. But their perspectives can help shape the way our cities look. In Austin, African-American women are hoping to diversify the field of architecture.

A couple weeks ago, Devanne Pena made a surprising discovery.

“I just became a licensed architect,” Pena said. “I found out that I am the second black woman to be licensed in Austin, Texas altogether, which is nuts.”

Pena was keeping her eye on a directory of African-American architects maintained by The University of Cincinnati, but that directory is an unofficial record. We turned to some official record-keepers to see if Pena was really the second black female architect currently working in Austin.

Glenn Garry with the Texas Board Of Architecture Examiners said Pena is set to become the third black woman architect licensed in Austin after some standard administrative procedures, but there could be even more that aren’t accounted for.

“So it looks like Ms. Pena is almost correct,” Garry said. “Our database has a field for whether you’re male or female, for what your race or ethnicity is, stuff like that. Those fields are totally optional though, so we have a lot of people who don’t answer any of that stuff, so we can’t – we don’t know.”

Still, the data does point to an overall lack of diversity in the field. Out of the more than 1,100 licensed architects in Austin, only seven reported their race as African-American.

undefinedYou may be thinking, why does any of this matter? What difference does it makes if the person designing a building is a man, a woman, or a person of color? We posed that question to Donna Carter, the first black woman architect on record to be currently licensed in Austin. “The form can be very, very important to how a community and a culture survives,” Carter said.

Donna Carter, the first practicing black female architect in Austin, says architecture provides an outlet for cultural expression and community-building.

Donna Carter, the first practicing black female architect in Austin, says architecture provides an outlet for cultural expression and community-building.

“The form can be very, very important to how a community and a culture survives,” Carter said.

To Carter, architecture is more than just technical design and planning. It’s a mode of creative expression, a way of defining your community and your idea of home. Read more