Everyone knows there is a huge diversity gap in design and tech fields. What is important to note is that there is very little work being done with underserved youth at a young age to help prepare them and to combat this disparity.
Therefore, exposure at a young age is essential. My goal with Inneract Project is to provide minority parents from underserved communities with valuable opportunities for their kids to enter design fields.
I was raised in Richmond, California, where, like most young people in urban communities across the nation, I was primarily exposed to sports and music. I ran into design via a scholarship to play college ball but not every kid in the community will get this opportunity.
While I was in college, I randomly picked design as a major. This was because I liked to draw when I was a kid. Through this random act, I was exposed to a new world. I think every kid in the community deserves to know about design.
There are a TON of career options for youth in these fields. I work in the Bay Area where design is an important skill in the tech industry. Design careers are in demand, and as a result, pay well.
Creative fields are projected to be one of the most promising new opportunities for employees over the next 7 years. (Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.)
Design in Context
In today’s world, design is all around us – logos, architecture, furniture, packaging, websites, technology, fashion, and endless other places. Even so, few people really understand what design is.
Design “process” encourages creativity and innovation, which drives our global marketplace. It takes into account; function, human values, social conditions and aesthetics. It makes our lives efficient, informed, sustainable, and more productive.
It is deeply embedded into our culture and is used to move our nation forward. Yet, it is a missing piece in K-12 education and most underserved communities have little knowledge of its existence.
Inneract Project is trying to change this. We know from studies that academic achievement by 8th grade is one of the largest predictors of college readiness.
We want to start working with young minority students at an early age, to give them the proper exposure, education and preparation to enter fields in design.In 2015, only 6% of African American graduates received Art/Design bachelor’s degrees from U.S. degree granting institutions. (Higher Education Arts Data Services (HEADS)
As our nation focuses more on innovation, we must educate our youth on what design can offer and develop their problem-solving skills to prepare them for jobs that meet the needs of our changing world.
We must also educate parents and the broader community so they can support this new generation of design thinkers. We believe parents are the key and invite them to not only sign their kids up for our classes and workshops but pass the word around, be involved, and help us build a network of parents dedicated to improving the quality of life and future for our young people.
We are working on an expansion model, testing Inneract Project programs in other cities as well as entrepreneurship for youth. We are empowering them through design and providing opportunities for them to create products that they believe the world needs.
About Maurice Woods:
Maurice Woods is the Executive Director/Founder of the Inneract Project (IP). Maurice graduated from the University of Washington with a BFA and MFA in Visual Communication Design. He played basketball as an undergraduate and professionally worldwide for 7 years. Since graduating, he has taught undergraduate and graduate level courses at multiple colleges, lectured nationally and internationally and contributed to various media outlets including the Wall Street Journal.
Maurice served as Co-Chair of Education for the AIGA San Francisco and nationally as a Board of Advisor for the Diversity Archive Collection Exhibition. Currently he sits on the board for Design Ignites Change. Professionally, Maurice worked as a designer at the world’s largest independent design consultancy, Pentagram Design. He designed extensive identity, retail, exhibit and interactive programs for clients such as Nike, Greyhound, Symantec, Priceline.com, and Google. He has won multiple design awards, featured in publications and is also a Jefferson Award winner. He currently works as a Experience Design lead at Yahoo.
For specific questions or to get involved to help our mission, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are currently looking for fundraising board members.
Contact Inneract Project on Social media:
– By Guest Contributor: Maurice Woods