It’s been hard to keep track of which luxury label has done something racially offensive lately, from Prada’s “Pradamalia” keychain dolls that resembled a “Black Sambo” figurine to Gucci’s balaclava knit top that evoked blackface imagery.
Now, following backlash to the latter, Gucci has announced two new initiatives through its program Gucci Changemakers: a scholarship program and community fund.
The fund will donate $5 million over five years and a $1.5 million four-year scholarship program in North America that, WWD reports, will “focus on empowering more diverse talent in North America to access the industry through scholarships that will be available to college students across various disciplines with the ambition to work in fashion.”
“I believe in the promise of the next generation, and through our scholarship fund we will also create more opportunities for talented young people of diverse backgrounds to gain access to careers in the fashion industry,” Marco Bizzarri, Gucci president and CEO, said.
Gucci has also created an employee volunteering program inspired by Salesforce’s Pledge 1% philanthropic model, which asks employees to dedicate 1% of their working time—between two and four paid work days—to non-profit volunteering in the areas of gender equality, education, environment, refugees, and the homeless.
Gucci Changemakers will also invest in community-oriented programs in North America that will “focus on building strong connections and opportunities within the African-American community, among others.” To counsel these programs, Gucci is forming a Changemakers Council that will advise on transparency and impact. Participants include Dapper Dan, a frequent Gucci collaborator, activist DeRay McKesson, musician and philanthropist Will.i.am, poet Cleo Wade, fashion model Bethann Harrison, and more.
Dapper Dan posted about the initiative on Instagram yesterday, saying that he’s seen “real action towards…solutions” through his meeting with Bizzarri, and thanked everyone who has “had my back. You might not understand now, but just watch as things unfold.”
Learn more about Gucci’s Changemakers program here.