In a groundbreaking move that promises to redefine the landscape of design and economic opportunity, Pensole Lewis College of Business and Design (PLC) has joined forces with Foot Locker’s Leading Education & Economic Development (LEED) initiative. This pioneering alliance aims to cultivate a more inclusive environment for young Black creatives and professionals in the design industry.
The partnership will feature “Threaded by PLC,” a free pop-up space running until September 20th, 2023, in Detroit. Not just a gallery or an exhibit, “Threaded” serves as an educational hub offering creative workshops and panels specifically tailored for high school students and other aspiring creatives. At its core, it aims to break down the barriers that have marginalized Black talent in the design industry for far too long.
PLC, founded by industry titan Dr. D’Wayne Edwards, is the nation’s first reinstated HBCU focusing on design education. With a storied 32-year career in major firms like L.A. Gear, Nike, and Brand Jordan, Dr. Edwards has been instrumental in creating pathways for young Black designers, particularly in the footwear industry. Through PLC, he continues this work by providing free education and career opportunities for individuals interested in design.
“In partnership with Foot Locker we created THREADED by PLC as a pop-up to offer FREE programming with the goal of making design education more accessible in the city and to educate the community about the vision for Detroit’s HBCU,” said Edwards.
Foot Locker’s LEED initiative complements this mission beautifully. Recognizing the central role that the Black community has played in shaping sneaker culture, the initiative is committed to amplifying and empowering voices that have historically been sidelined or overlooked. Together, these organizations seek not just to educate but also to innovate, giving back to a community that has given so much to the world of design.
The pinnacle of this revolutionary initiative is happening Saturday, September 16th, 2023, with an array of engaging activities. E. Scott Morris, the Chair of Footwear at Pensole Lewis College, will lead a Sneaker Design Workshop at 1:00 PM. For many young, aspiring designers, this is a dream come true—an opportunity to learn from one of the best in the field. The day’s events will culminate at 6:00 PM with a Celebration Mixer and a Homegrown Panel Discussion. The mixer offers a unique opportunity for community members to engage with the leadership teams of PLC and Foot Locker. Simultaneously, the panel discussion will spotlight local clothing brands Arrival and Corner Store Goods, serving as a testament to the power of homegrown talent and entrepreneurial spirit.
The implications of this partnership extend far beyond the immediate community. It serves as a powerful model for how educational institutions and corporations can collaborate to bring about real change. PLC and Foot Locker’s LEED Initiative are setting a precedent that will undoubtedly influence other initiatives aimed at leveling the playing field in various industries.
This is not just about the City of Detroit; this could very well be the template for communities everywhere. It’s a statement about the broader need to invest in, uplift, and respect the talent that often goes unnoticed or underutilized. With this initiative, we’re not just sketching designs on paper; we’re sketching a future where the richness of diverse talent is recognized, nurtured, and celebrated.
In essence, the collaboration between Pensole Lewis College and Foot Locker is about much more than sneakers and design. It’s about taking tangible steps toward a more equitable future, proving that when we weave together vision, innovation, and social responsibility, we can create a tapestry that uplifts us all.