The Inneract Project aims to change the design industry

The design non-profit strives to empower the next generation of Black and Brown designers and Maurice Woods leads the initiative.

Children at a desk drawing

As Principal Design Lead at Microsoft and founder of the Inneract Project, Maurice Woods is an influential designer. His experience teaching Black and brown kids about creative professions has given him an insight that could “change design as we know it”, according to Fast Company, thanks to Inneract:

[…] Graphic design has a major diversity problem: Just 3% of designers self-identify as Black, according to the most recent AIGA Design Census. That lack of representation means things we use every day—from apps to shoes to transportation—are being designed largely from a white experience. It also means that kids don’t see designers who look like them, making it more unlikely they’ll go into the field.

Woods founded Inneract Project to counter that. He first discovered graphic design at the University of Washington; after a seven-year detour playing pro basketball in Europe, he eventually settled in the Bay Area to earn his graduate degree and worked for top agencies like Pentagram and Studio Hinrichs before coming to Microsoft. In the 16 years since he founded Inneract, the program has taught design skills to more than 1,500 kids; even more importantly, it has fostered a creative community of students, alumni, and parents. And while diversity is a buzzword at the moment, Woods says there’s not a quick fix. Companies have to recognize that diversity is a long-term goal and that can only be addressed by creating opportunities for early exposure to design.

Inneract Project offers free courses and workshops, internships, and mentoring and not only gets kids into design but supports them through those early years.

We believe that by developing pathways to the field of design and providing professional mentorship, we can boost student success, ultimately leading to an increase in diversity in design and technology. To achieve this, we engage practicing designers and other professionals to teach students about their respective disciplines.

From IP’s about page

Head over to IP website to see how you can get involved with the project through volunteering or donations.

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