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Pensole Lewis College In Detroit Partners With Nike To Empower HBCU Students Nationwide

Pensole Lewis College (PLC) Detroit continues to raise the bar.  The only design-focused Historically Black College and University (HBCU), has partnered with global sportswear leader Nike to launch an industry-certified education program called Future Sole | PLC powered by Nike.

The purpose is to address the underrepresentation of Black designers in the professional product creation industry and create opportunities for aspiring designers from HBCUs.

The program comprises online and in-person masterclasses in:

  • Apparel
  • Color
  • Materials
  • Footwear
  • Graphics
  • 3D design
  • Product Marketing

Through an immersive curriculum, students will have unparalleled personal and professional development opportunities. Three PLC Detroit department chairs, all esteemed Nike alums, will lead these masterclasses, offering valuable mentorship and practical experience.

This groundbreaking partnership is a testament to NIKE, Inc.’s Black Community Commitment, a $40 million investment over four years to support the Black community in the United States by championing social justice, education, and addressing racial inequality.

Under the leadership of Dr. D’Wayne Edwards, the founder of PLC Detroit and former design director at Nike’s Jordan brand, this collaboration aims to level the playing field in design education for HBCU students and bring together HBCUs. Future Sole | PLC will be a platform for PLC Detroit to share its industry-approved curriculum and inspire other HBCUs interested in design.

“To be taught by former Nike design directors is invaluable,” said Edwards.

“The program creates a real-time professional environment to develop skills and prepare students for successful design careers.”

This partnership between Nike and PLC Detroit represents an exceptional milestone, as it is the first of its kind for any HBCU. It builds upon the ongoing collaboration established in 2018, which includes the Serena Williams Design Crew and the Converse All-Star Design Team—apprenticeship initiatives to nurture the next generation of diverse talent that develops footwear, apparel, and accessory designs from concept to creation in partnership with PLC Detroit.

“Inclusivity and diversity have long been challenges in the design industry,” said Edwards.

“In all the partnerships that PLC Detroit has solidified, Nike, Inc. has been the most beneficial in providing internships, apprenticeships, and full-time employment to over 100 PLC Detroit alumni in the last 14 years.”

In 2008, while at Nike, Dr. Edwards introduced the Future Sole program, which gained over one million participants in four years. This track record of achievement underscores Future Sole | PLC’s transformative potential for empowering the next generation of design talent.

About Pensole Lewis College

Pensole Lewis College of Business and Design is a private, historically black college in Detroit, Michigan. It was also the first and only historically black college in Michigan. Founded in 1928 as the Lewis College of Business by Violet T. Lewis, it specialized in business-related topics.

The school became the first HBCU to reopen, rebranding as Pensole Lewis College of Business and Design in 2021 through the efforts of D’Wayne Edwards, founder of the Pensole Footwear Design Academy, with an emphasis on design in addition to business.

Applications are open until June 2, 2024, at 11:59 PM EST. Students who have graduated from an HBCU in the past three years are eligible to apply.

For more information about Future Sole | PLC powered by Nike and the application process, please visit https://www.plcdetroit.com/futuresole/.

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