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UPS Announces Grant Program For Emerging HBCU Designers To Showcase At NYFW

UPS Announces Grant Program For Emerging HBCU Designers To Showcase At NYFW

They’re continuing their commitment to Black businesses!

UPS is no stranger to supporting the community. The global shipping company has a longstanding commitment to supporting small businesses, through various initiatives like their “Pull Up & Pitch” competition, and “Be Unstoppable,” a campaign geared toward supporting Black-owned businesses by celebrating “the unstoppable spirit and tenacity of small business owners.” Now they’ve announced the newest endeavor under the “Be Unstoppable” umbrella, a small business grant that will fund emerging HBCU designers, HBCU Lifestyle reports. 

The NYFW: The Shows Small Business Grant is a partnership between UPS and IMG aimed at providing funding for HBCU designers looking to debut at New York Fashion Week (NYFW). The grant will provide three designers from HBCUs with a total of $50,000 each to produce a fashion show at NYFW: The Shows this fall. The new program hopes to provide an innovative platform to amplify the work of diverse small businesses and help catapult young designers just looking for an opportunity. 

“Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) have played an increasingly important role in the fashion industry in recent years. The rise of HBCU designers in the fashion industry reflects the growing recognition of their contributions to culture,” UPS told Because Of Them We Can via statement. 


Each designer will have the opportunity to submit their work to a selection committee made up of fashion and business experts. The committee includes Ali Bird, SVP of Global Talent Strategy & Incubation at WME Fashion, Kevin Warren, executive VP and Chief Marketing Officer at UPS, and Kahlana Barfield Brown, fashion and beauty editor and influencer. A Howard University alum, Barfield Brown says she is excited to take part in this initiative and will be looking for designers who bring a fresh voice to fashion. 

“I am committed to uplift and champion HBCU students in the realm of fashion. The voices and talents of Black designers remain vastly underrepresented in the fashion industry and I aspire to be a catalyst of change…I’m looking for someone with a really strong point of view of what they’re trying to say in the world of fashion, with a commitment to precision and detail,” she explained. 

Warren said he’s excited to spearhead UPS’ efforts to create a pipeline for Black creatives from HBCUs by propelling them into the fashion industry. In addition to selecting the chosen winners, Warren and the selection committee will also serve as mentors for the designers as they prepare for their shows in September. 

“This program is designed to give Black creators a platform to grow their businesses…HBCUs are an institution for cultivating Black excellence and Black culture. They build communities, foster creativity and develop the next generation of entrepreneurs. The goal of the program is to strengthen the pipeline of Black creatives coming out of HBCUs and support them in finding success…Major fashion houses start out as small businesses…By helping these entrepreneurs and designers make their mark on a global stage, we are empowering them with the access and visibility they need to grow their brands. UPS knows that small businesses are cultural elevators and the backbone of the fashion industry, so we look forward to celebrating them!,” said Warren.

Applications for UPS’ NYFW: The Shows Small Business Grant close June 9th, 2023: To apply, click here.

Cover photo: UPS Launches grant program for emerging HBCU designers to showcase at NYFW/Photo Courtesy of UPS