UMES secures a “Closing the Gap” grant | University of Maryland Eastern Shore Marketing Retarget Pixel

UMES secures a “Closing the Gap” grant

  • Gap Inc., Harlem’s Fashion Row & Icon360 award worth $50,000

    Wednesday, June 23, 2021

    Dr. Bridgett Clinton-Scott encourages aspiring fashionistas in her human ecology classes to think big, so she's stitched together a network to connect them with successful UMES alumni. 

    Clinton-Scott's efforts just got a significant financial boost -- a $50,000 grant from a consortium of American apparel companies looking to support historically black institutions that nurture future fashion designers and merchandisers. 

    The University of Maryland Eastern Shore was among 10 HBCUs picked to receive a “Closing the Gap” award, a collaboration between Gap Inc., Harlem's Fashion Row (HFR), an agency for underrepresented African American and Latino designers, and Icon360, HFR's non-profit subsidiary.  The 10 institutions will share $510,000. 

    “I was very excited and surprised they reached out so soon,” Clinton-Scott said. 

    She learned about the competition May 21, and pivoted quickly to submit a plan explaining how UMES would use the money to benefit students. She received word in early June that the proposal had been accepted. 

    A website post promoting the competition said “ICON360 and Gap Inc. have partnered to 'Bridge the Gap' between HBCUs, funding and the next generation of fashion leaders” with the goal of encouraging Black students “to innovate and push the needle forward in the world of fashion.” 

    Four years ago, Clinton-Scott started connecting undergraduates with UMES alumni, mostly through virtual platforms that became even more important during the low ebb of the pandemic. Three of Clinton-Scott's former students operate their own fashion design companies.

    “I had been working on creating an alumni network that I could call upon to do seminars with students,” Clinton-Scott said. “So this (competition) seemed like a way I could make it more effective.” 

    “I wanted to expand upon that - expand mentorship and develop a program where our students can maintain a relationship with our fashion alumni,” she said. 

    When travel restrictions ease, Clinton-Scott is looking to organize a cross-country trip for students to visit UMES alumni who have found success working in the fashion industry on the West Coast. 

    “I think it's important for our students to see for themselves … you can be successful (as a UMES alumnus),” said Clinton-Scott, who joined the university's faculty in 2004. 

    She also is looking to invest some of the award in refreshing the “President's Closet,” an extracurricular fashion merchandising project where students can find apparel for job interviews.  It currently operates on a limited schedule on the second floor of Kiah Hall. 

    “It's a practical, hands-on experience for our students to learn about merchandising, and working in retail,” she said. “I'd like to get it a little more exposure.” 

    Brandice Daniel, founder and CEO of Harlem's Fashion Row, expressed hope the “Closing the Gap” program will be an annual competition. 

    “We are coming together as one to not only address pipeline issues of diversity and inclusion in the industry, but also to help give them tools and guidance the next generation needs to take the fashion industry to new heights," Daniel said in a press release announcing the winners. 

    Gap Inc. and HFR subsidiary ICON360 also plan to “partner to provide mentorship and internship opportunities to students currently enrolled in each of the winning HBCU programs.” 

    "I look forward to working with Harlem's Fashion Row to not only support the rich, storied history of HBCUs, but to change our industry for the better through cultivating pipelines to careers in fashion for Black creative talent," said Sarah Holme, executive vice president of product design and development at Old Navy and executive sponsor of the cross-brand creative community across Gap Inc.

    2021 "Closing the Gap" awardees 

    $100,000

    • North Carolina Central (Durham, NC)
    • North Carolina A & T (Greensboro, NC)

    $50,000

    • Delaware State University (Dover, DE)
    • Howard University (Washington, D.C.)
    • Bowie State University (Bowie, MD)
    • University of Maryland Eastern Shore (Princess Anne, MD)
    • Tennessee State (Nashville, TN)

    $20,000: 

    • University of Arkansas Pine Bluff (Pine Bluff, AR)
    • Clark Atlanta University (Atlanta, GA)
    • Norfolk State University (Norfolk, VA)