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

Published on CISION PRWeb

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 and business of design in under-resourced communities. Recently, Osmosis received the inaugural IBM Empower Award aimed at prompting and promoting a pipeline of diverse talent.


“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 is to create a legacy for the next generation of designers of color to help them thrive. They need the right environment and access to resources and tools to pursue their creative dreams.”


Lockhart shared the organization’s blueprints and 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 Osmosis participants. Cyaira Adams was unsure of 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 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
Project Osmosis Team
WE’RE POWER! WE’RE DESIGN! WE’RE INITIATIVE! Experience the power of a design education initiative.

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