Macy’s has partnered with Parsons and The New School to establish a new $1 million endowed scholarship fund that provides critical aid to students.The two parties collaborated on a special Benefit fundraising drive to raise contributions from Macy’s and the Macy’s network to establish the endowed scholarship, and to maximize its impact, Parsons agreed to match 100% of Macy’s contribution.
In addition to supporting students with financial need, Macy’s and Parsons share a commitment to ensuring that a diverse group of art and design students are able to take advantage of the education Parsons offers. The endowment will facilitate students enrolled into the Parsons Scholars Program, a three-year college access and preparation program for NYC public high school students, focusing on students of color from low-income backgrounds. Annually it welcomes 72 students who for 3 years will spend their Saturdays and summers studying art and design at the college level, acquiring the tools and knowledge necessary to gain admittance to competitive art and design college programs. Parsons fully covers the cost of participation, including tuition, transportation, art supplies, meals, field trips, and technology.
The cost of a Parsons degree tops $50,000 annually, with room and board and materials an additional consideration. Although admissions and acceptance rates vary from year to year, Parsons typically has between 12 and 20 graduates of the Parsons Scholars Program enrolled as undergraduates (freshmen through seniors). The scholarship support is considered a key factor in many students’ decision to matriculate.
“I am thrilled to partner with Parsons on a newly endowed scholarship to fund this critical financial aid for the Parsons Scholars Program,” says Jeff Gennette, Chairman & CEO, Macy’s, Inc. in a statement to FashionUnited. “The Macy’s Endowed Scholarship Fund for Parsons School of Design will support the talents of the design leaders of tomorrow and we are honored to be a part of that legacy.”
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The Macy’s Parsons relationship has been developing for some time, and was further strengthened n 2019, when the popular retailer and the nation’s premier school collaborated on a merchant training program for Macy’s employees, which in turn led to Gennette being honored at the Parsons Benefit celebrating the school’s 125th Anniversary.
“Macy’s and Parsons share many common values, including a commitment to inclusivity, innovation, and creating positive change within the fashion and design industry,” Executive Dean, Rachel Schreiber tells FashionUnited in an email. “Since we began our discussion with Macy’s about creating this new scholarship program, they have been collaborative and respectful partners who are just as eager as we are to develop and foster new pathways for students from all backgrounds.” While many companies and institutions currently employ language centered around diversity and inclusivity in their press material but are vague on details, Schreiber outlines a wide range of ways Parsons is actively addressing the challenges: “Our initiatives include: hiring more BIPOC faculty and ensuring equitable hiring practices, offering leadership development to BIPOC faculty, significant work on decentering whiteness in our curricula, developing long term commitments to ensuring that our working and learning environments are equitable, raising scholarship funding to better support students of color.” The Parsons Scholars Program is just one example of how the school is enacting change. “We understand the need for short term as well as long term commitments in this arena,” says Schreiber. “Social justice is at the core of our mission and we believe in the critical importance of educating designers who reflect our society and are committed to addressing our most pressing problems.”
Photo Craig Barritt/Getty Images for The New School. L-R Carrie Mae Weems, Jeff Gennette, Dwight McBride, President of The New School, Rachel Schreiber, and Angela Ahrendts.
Fashion editor Jackie Mallon is also an educator and author of Silk for the Feed Dogs, a novel set in the international fashion industry