California College of the Arts receives $4.7 million from Gensler, Amazon, and others to support diversity in design

Funding Future Scholars

California College of the Arts receives $4.7 million from Gensler, Amazon, and others to support diversity in design

(HaeB/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 4.0)

California College of the Arts (CCA) has received a donation totaling $4.7 million from three organizations—Gensler, Amazon, Z SUPPLY Foundation—and one anonymous benefactor. The generous sum of money will be used in part to fund three scholarship programs at the San Francisco–based CCA and to establish the M. Arthur Gensler Jr. Center for Design Excellence, a new initiative that aims at encourage diversity within the architecture industry, which has historically been a racially homogenous field.

The new M. Arthur Gensler Jr. Center for Design will provide scholarships, mentoring, and career counseling to CCA students with the goal of making design education more accessible and equitable. Over the past 20 years, Gensler has supported a variety of scholarship programs including the Rising Black Designers Scholarship, Brinkmann Scholarship + Design Challenge, and Diversity in Design Bursary in the United Kingdom. Founding partner Art Gensler served on the board of CCA for 11 years until his death in May 2021.

“Gensler has a long history of supporting and encouraging a more diverse and innovative community in architecture and design, which originated with our late founder Art Gensler,” said Robin Klehr Avia, chair of the Gensler charitable cause and Board of Directors member in a press release. “Both CCA and Gensler believe the future of design depends on cultivating a multiplicity of ideas and influence. We are proud to honor Art’s legacy by providing faculty support, scholarships, and mentorships within the community and other educational and professional opportunities for a diverse array of CCA students to help them become the design leaders of the future.”

In addition to the $1 million gift from the Gensler family and $1 million from the San Francisco–founded global architecture firm, the CCA received funding from e-commerce giant Amazon, the Z SUPPLY Foundation, and an anonymous donor to establish scholarships for low-income CCA students. Amazon has pledged $100,000 to be split among two low-income Bay-Area students—over the course of four years—pursuing degrees in game arts and fashion design at CCA.

“Amazon works to support students from diverse economic backgrounds in fields that inspire innovation and creativity. We believe deeply in the power of investing in communities where we live and work,” stated Sally Kay, regional head of public policy and external affairs for Amazon.

On a similar note, Z SUPPLY Foundation promised $100,000 to create an endowed scholarship for students studying design, art and fashion at CCA “who bring diverse experiences, ideas, and creative work.” Z SUPPLY Foundation is a philanthropic venture started by Greg Garrett, a CCA alumnus and the cofounder and CEO of online clothing retailer Z SUPPLY “The education I received at CCA was invaluable, giving me the knowledge, skills, and confidence throughout my career in the apparel industry,” Garrett said. “As an expression of gratitude for that experience, and in commitment to the community, Z SUPPLY wants to give back by helping support future designers in their pursuit of degrees at CCA.”

In addition, an anonymous Bay Area donor pledged $2.5 million to CCA to fund full-ride scholarships, covering tuition and housing, for 20 low-income students, over the course of eight years.  All scholarships will be doled out to recipients for the current 2022–23 academic year.

These gifts bolster CCA’s already significant investments in diversity, which average $16 million in annual funding. For over 20 years CCA has pursued greater educational equality and ranks among the most diverse in the United States. According to data from the college, 25 percent of the its student body are first generation college students, 34 percent are eligible for Pell Grants, and 85 percent receive financial aid or scholarships.