Project Osmosis Wins IBM Empower Award 2021 – Project Osmosis
post-template-default,single,single-post,postid-5993,single-format-standard,eltd-core-1.2.1,give-test-mode,give-page,flow child-child-ver-1.0.1,flow-ver-1.7,,eltd-smooth-page-transitions,ajax,eltd-blog-installed,page-template-blog-standard,eltd-header-type2,eltd-sticky-header-on-scroll-down-up,eltd-default-mobile-header,eltd-sticky-up-mobile-header,eltd-dropdown-default,wpb-js-composer js-comp-ver-6.0.5,vc_responsive

Project Osmosis Wins IBM Empower Award 2021

Project Osmosis was featured this summer on America By Design and won the IBM Empower Award.

LEARN MORE on America By Design Website


Contact: Vernon Lockhart, Project Osmosis

Project Osmosis Selected As Winner of First-Ever Empower Award by IBM Design


Prize Highlights Nonprofit’s Commitment to Bringing Diversity to the Design Industry

CHICAGO July 29, 2021 – In the design industry, Black creatives only make up three percent of its workforce, and they often feel shut out or unseen. Chicago-based Project Osmosis’ mission is to not only shift the narrative, but the numbers. Through its design education initiatives, the group introduces the art, science and business of design in under-resourced communities. Recently because of this work, Project Osmosis received the inaugural Empower Award. Aimed at prompting and promoting a pipeline of diverse talent, the award is presented by IBM Design and will help boost the organization’s expansion.


“We are committed to building the Osmosis Design Center, a state-of-the-art space in the South Side of Chicago where our youth can dream, learn and express themselves in a safe environment,” said Executive Director, Vernon Lockhart. “Our mission has always been to create a legacy for the next generation of designers of color and to help them thrive. They need the right environment and access to the right resources and tools to pursue their creative dreams.”


Lockhart shared the organization’s blueprints and big vision for the future of the organization, which impressed IBM Design judges. The nationally syndicated television show America By Design featured Osmosis and debuted the announcement of their award win.


Presented by IBM Design, the Empower Award recognizes diverse design teams and an approach to design that considers the needs, experiences and aspirations of all possible users and audiences.


“I’m really proud of this project. It really invited access into our designer profession. Not everybody has that access and this project nailed it,” said Nigel Prentice, Design Director, Digital Growth and Commerce at IBM.


The America By Design season finale also featured past participants, known as “Osmosites.” Cyaira Adams was unsure about her next step as she closed her clothing boutique and was fired from a nationally syndicated show as a wardrobe stylist. Project Osmosis stepped in to help guide her.


“I didn’t know what to do next. Vernon really took me outside of my neighborhood and set me in rooms with people who I never thought I would meet. Doing the fashion workshops with Project Osmosis really inspired me to get back into wardrobe styling,” Adams said. Since her time with Project Osmosis, she’s worked as a wardrobe stylist on an Emmy-nominated show.


“For more than 20 years, we’ve helped over 10,000 youth in Chicago who have amazing gifts and talent but simply lacked access to the necessary resources. This award is a testament to that and the work still to be done,” added Lockhart. “We know that we can’t do it alone. If you believe in the next generation of innovators, designers, and creators this is one simple way to invest in their success. We have a goal of raising $25,000 over the next month, and we can get there with the right support.”


For more information or to give, visit

Project Osmosis Team

WE’RE POWER! WE’RE DESIGN! WE’RE INITIATIVE! Experience the power of a design education initiative.