Closing the Gap Initiative Awards $500,000 to HBCU Fashion Programs

North Carolina Central Fashion Program students proudly pose with a giant check from Gap, Inc. and Icon 360.
North Carolina Central Fashion Program students proudly pose with a giant check from the Closing the Gap Initiative.

Following the tremendous response to their inaugural Closing the Gap initiative, Gap Inc. and Harlem’s Fashion Row are again backing the success of fashion programs at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) with more than $500,000 in awards. 

Launched in 2021, the Closing the Gap initiative aims to strengthen educational opportunities for the next generation of Black, Indigenous and Other People of Color (BIPOC) fashion leaders and provide a platform that empowers these students to propel their studies and drive innovation within the fashion industry. 

The initiative’s inaugural launch awarded more than $500,000 to ten HBCUs to improve their fashion departments. This remains the largest donation to HBCUs’ fashion programs to date. 

In addition to the cash award, Gap Inc. provides career opportunities to the students through the Create With Audacity Design Apprenticeship, a year-long program for high-caliber creative talent with potential to become future industry leaders. 

Launched in September of this year, the Design Apprentices are partnered with creative mentors from across Gap Inc.’s portfolio of powerful brands, fostering an environment of shared learning and experiences. Threading through our commitment to ICON360, more than half of the inaugural apprentices are recent graduates from Closing the Gap-awarded HBCUs.

2022 Closing the Gap Initiative Fashion Award Winners

Two (2) scholarships of $100,000:

  • North Carolina A&T 
  • University of Maryland Eastern Shore

Five (5) scholarships of $50,000:

  • Bowie State University
  • Clark Atlanta University
  • Norfolk State University
  • North Carolina Central University
  • Tennessee State University

Two (2) scholarships of $30,000:

  • Delaware State University
  • University of Arkansas Pine Bluff

In celebration, Gap Inc. recently brought together two of the award-recipient schools – North Carolina A&T and North Carolina Central – to receive their awards and engage in rich dialogue on how retail industry partners could continue to support creatives of color. 

“Our mission at Harlem’s Fashion Row has always been to bridge the gap between brands and designers of color. Creating equity in the industry starts when these BIPOC designers are developing the skills for their field…We have seen the impact of our first award and are inspired to continue to support the next generation of fashion leaders.” 

– Brandice Daniel, CEO and Founder of Harlem’s Fashion Row

“The Closing the Gap grant funds will have an immense impact on the UMES Fashion Program by supporting our fashion entrepreneur mentorship program which assists students with gaining entrepreneurial and media production skills…In addition, the grant funds will assist our program by allowing faculty to offer students experiential activities off-campus (i.e., fashion study tours). The Closing the Gap grant will also support our professional dress clothes closet.”

 Professor Bridgett Clinton-Scott, Head of the Fashion Department at University of Maryland Eastern Shore

“Empowering the next generation of Black fashion leaders is a responsibility that we owe not only to our customers and communities who look to Gap Inc. to do the right thing, but to the industry who is in need of these critical voices…We are honored and proud to continue partnering with Harlem’s Fashion Row to foster the incredible talent found within HBCUs and unlock their limitless potential.”  

– Bahja Johnson, Head of Customer and Community Belonging & Enablement at Gap Inc.

For further information about the Closing the Gap Initiative, visit:

About GAP, Inc.  
Gap Inc., a collection of purpose-led lifestyle brands, is the largest American specialty apparel company offering clothing, accessories, and personal care products for men, women, and children under the Old Navy, Gap, Banana Republic, and Athleta brands.

The company uses omni-channel capabilities to bridge the digital world and physical stores to further enhance its shopping experience. Gap Inc. is guided by its purpose, Inclusive, by Design, and takes pride in creating products and experiences its customers love while doing right by its employees, communities, and planet.

Gap Inc. products are available for purchase worldwide through company-operated stores, franchise stores, and e-commerce sites. Fiscal year 2021 net sales were $16.7 billion. For more information, please visit

About ICON 360

The Mission of ICON360 is to create equitable opportunities in the fashion industry by providing resources for HBCUs and Black designers and creatives. The non-profit (a subsidiary of Harlem Fashion Row) offers financial grants as well as developmental and advisory programs that support marginalized talent. 

ICON360 brings fashion industry stakeholders together to secure equity for established and emerging Black designers and creatives. The organization seeks to fill voids created by systemic barriers and inequitable practices that have excluded Black talent from professional advancement. To learn more, please visit

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