The first installment of what is a five-year program will go to 16 groups in 12 cities in North America. These organizations specialize in broadening diversity and social impact in such areas as arts and culture, social justice and equity and education. As will be the case in the years that follow, this inaugural round consists of an annual $1 million grant.
The beneficiaries of this goodwill initiative are being announced nearly a year after the Italian luxury group was criticized following accusations in February that a balaclava-style sweater evoked blackface. But in an interview with WWD in March of last year, president and chief executive officer Marco Bizzarri noted that the Changemakers program had already been announced well before that controversy, and merely was accelerated. The company has voiced its commitment to cultural diversity and creating lasting social impact in communities and within the fashion industry.
Their diversity-minded and access-oriented efforts cover such areas as leadership development in venture capital and technology entrepreneurship, fashion programs for underserved youth, and criminal justice reform. Each of the 16 nonprofits receive a grant that is up to $50,000 for a one-year funding cycle that started Jan. 1. That financial support will be used to help the recipients establish programs or expand existing initiatives in their respective communities.
The winners were selected from a field of 145 organizations that had applied. Gucci relied on its North America Changemakers Council and outside authorities to review each application to select the 16 grantees. Bethann Hardison, Dapper Dan and will.i.am are among the members of the council. Parties interested in applying for the next round of the Gucci Changemakers Impact Fund will be able to do so this fall.
The first round of winners include HBCU VC of Atlanta; two Chicago-based organizations After School Matters and Braven; Design Core in Detroit; Writers in the Schools in Houston; the Black AIDS Institute in Los Angeles; two San Francisco-based groups Creativity Explored and Talking Points; two Miami-based ones Educate Tomorrow and the Alliance for GLBTQ Youth; the ACLU of Louisiana in New Orleans; two New York City-rooted groups Custom Collaborative and Slay TV; the National Youth Foundation in Philadelphia; Thurgood Marshall College Fund of Washington, D.C. and UforChange in Toronto. Beyond these 16 grant recipients, during 2019 the impact fund also supported six other nonprofit organizations and institutions, reaching the first-year allocation of $1 million.
Another dimension of the Gucci Changemakers North America Fund is designed to empower young people through two scholarships programs — Gucci Changemakers Scholars and Gucci Changemakers x CFDA Scholars by Design. They are designed to assist diverse undergraduate students with unmet financial need who are interested in the fashion industry, as well as to develop mentorship and leadership opportunities at Gucci America and within the fashion industry. Those scholarships — that will grant up to $20,000 per year — will be awarded this spring.