Following a successful debut, RAISEfashion has expanded its paid internship program with the Anti Racism Fund to give more students the chance to take part in the multifaceted development program.
The two parties first joined forces in a partnership that was announced in February. Together, they launched a 10-week summer internship program that included a grant for living expenses for students from four Historically Black Colleges and Universities — Howard University, Spelman College, Morehouse College and Florida A&M University — as part of “The Homecoming Initiative.”
For summer 2022, the paid program and stipend have been bolstered to include more companies and additional HBCUs. Louis Vuitton, Cartier, Tory Burch, Richemont, Shopbop, Amazon, Pyer Moss, Rachel Comey, Staud and Lafayette 148 are among the upcoming participants. Saks Fifth Avenue is one of the returning companies that has signed up for the 2022 program and additional major companies may be added to the roster, a RAISEfashion spokesman said. Interns will dive into such areas as business development, sales, buying, merchandising, e-commerce, product design, marketing, public relations, social media and operations.
North Carolina Central University, Tennessee State, Delaware State University, the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, and the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff are among the schools that are new to this year’s program, which will boost the tally to 13 HBCUs. Twenty students participated in the internship program the first time out, and 25 are expected to benefit from the 2022 program, the RAISEfashion spokesman said.
Applications for the 2022 internship program open today on RAISEfashion’s website and will close on Jan. 9. Undergraduate juniors and seniors can apply and a jury will confer with representatives from the Anti Racism Fund to identify high-potential candidates. Participants will be assigned a mentor from the RAISEfashion network and they will be involved with industry-focused programming and events with global leaders, industry experts and media partners. The winning candidates will be notified of their acceptance by Feb. 4.
Graduates of HBCUs comprise more than 50 percent of Black professionals and industry leaders, and contribute more than $10.2 billion of the nation’s economy. But making the fashion and beauty industry more diverse in terms of internships, job opportunities, advancement and C-suite representation continues to be lacking.
The RAISEfashion initiative is in step with the ARF’s goal to enhance accessibility within every industry affecting communities of color, according to Lindsey Ferguson, cofounder of the ARF. Through the partnership, tangible long-term professional and mentorship opportunities have been created, she said in a statement. “Finding a group who is just as passionate as us to take action and initiate change shows that this is more than just a moment, it’s a movement — and we have the power,” Ferguson said.
RAISEfashion’s mission is “to identify and provide opportunities to Black talent in order to remove the barriers that stand in the way of individuals reaching their potential, said Felita Harris, chief strategy and revenue officer, Harlem’s Fashion Row and founding board member for RAISEfashion.