Jonathan Moody's presentation at the 2020 AIA Rochester Annual Meeting inspired me to think about diversity within our profession at our local level. To make a difference, we need to have a coordinated corporate level initiative from our A/E/C community and maybe even beyond just A/E/C. How do we, as a Rochester community, make a difference?
AIA Rochester has been active with Explorers and outreach to
K-12 programs, and we now partner with ACE Mentor Program of Rochester. So, it’s not that we aren't visible, but maybe that's not enough. The outreach needs to be at the corporate level…at the hiring level. What can we do as a professional community to provide opportunity to people of color that might otherwise not have access to our profession because of educational cost constraints? I know this is a difficult question to answer because most of our positions require higher-education training and/or experience.
Then I read an article published by AIA National. Safdie Architects, in coordination with the Architects Foundation's Diversity Advancement Scholarship, established a scholarship for applicants of color. It is not just a one-time award. It is a re-occurring 5 yr. scholarship for each year that the student attends school plus a paid internship with Safdie after the 3rd year of schooling. When this article was published, our AFGR and AIA Rochester boards were discussing the merits of our scholarship program and how we can make our program substantive and meaningful.
At our last board meeting, we discussed how we might be able to model a scholarship using the Safdie initiative as our inspiration. We would love to know your thoughts and how AFGR could partner with our local A/E/C's to define our own diversity initiative. If you want to talk more about contributing to our scholarship endowment and how we could foster a program like this in our region, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or Linda Hewitt at email@example.com.