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The YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund has expanded beyond its roots offering scholarships by establishing a grant program and has identified its first winner.

Called the FSF Alumni Dream Grant, the first $50,000 prize will be awarded to Lily Chen, a former scholarship winner from the Fashion Institute of Technology and cofounder of Thistle & Spire, a women’s lingerie brand.

In June of 2017, FSF announced the expansion of its portfolio of scholarships to include the $50,000 equity-free Alumni Dream Grant as a way to find, mentor and support the people it has identified as top talent in the industry. Chen, was chosen by the Alumni Association’s vetting panel based on the viability of her idea, growth potential, development and vision, progress evaluation and brand fit.

Marc Mastronardi, Macy’s Inc. executive vice president of new business development and innovation and an FSF vice president, oversees the program and said, “All of us who care and are invested in the future of fashion need to continue to identify the next generation of leadership and give them the support they need to succeed.”

Thistle & Spire was founded by Chen and Maggie Bacon, who met at FIT. “Maggie and I cofounded Thistle & Spire because we both saw the power in lingerie,” she said. “As young women, it helped us find confidence, not as something we purchase to wear for other people, but for ourselves.

“It’s been a lot of hard work, but thrilling to watch our company grow,” Chen added. “As someone who was not confident growing up, the brand allows me to help other women find their confidence through lingerie. After all, there is nothing more unstoppable than an army of confident women.”

The FSF traces its roots to 1937 and has awarded more than $12 million in scholarships over that time. Annually, the organization presents scholarships from $5,000 to $35,000 to more than 200 recipients.

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