A Scholarship for a More Diverse Design Industry

2020 Adobe Design Circle Scholarship Winners

During much of the five years or so I’ve worked at Adobe, alongside my “day job” leading the design team behind Adobe XD, I’ve also been pursuing an unusual “side hustle.” It was a bit of a far-fetched idea that was almost completely outside of my expertise, and one that very likely would not have been possible at any other company except Adobe: the creation of a scholarship fund specifically to help aspiring designers from diverse and underrepresented groups pursue design educations.

After several years of planning, persuasion and paperwork, a few of us dedicated to this idea managed to put together the Design Circle Scholarship, announced late last year in this blog post by my colleague and collaborator Kari Norder. We were incredibly moved to receive over a thousand applications from new, vibrant talent all over the world. We were also lucky enough to get a generous contribution of time from the members of our Design Circle forum of industry leaders to carefully and thoughtfully review each application and portfolio. Today, Adobe announced the ten lucky, deserving, promising, amazing winners. You can see their pictures above and read more about them in this blog post at XD Ideas.

Of course, a cohort of ten scholarship winners is a modest start and it’s not going to change the industry overnight. But it’s a meaningful one for these students: they’ll each receive up to US$25,000 for four years of undergraduate study in design. The fund is intended to allow young designers to access the education they deserve, regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender, age, economic or cultural background.

For me, the animating idea is that if we can open the doors wider to those seeking to enter the design field, if we can make design education more affordable and accessible to more and different kinds of people, then we can make a material impact on who ultimately gets to practice design. That is the difference between a design industry that wants to be more diverse and inclusive and a design industry that is more diverse and inclusive. We have a lot of work to do still, but these ten burgeoning talents are proof that we can change this industry if we match actions to our intentions.

Read more at xd.adobe.com.