Bay Area Design Nonprofit Wins Support from Tech Giants

Autodesk and Facebook are offering financial and program support to the Inneract Project, which works to expose kids in underserved communities to graphic design concepts.

A nonprofit designed to encourage diversity in the world of design just gained a couple of pretty notable friends.

The Inneract Project, a group that offers design education resources to underserved communities in the San Francisco Bay Area, revealed to TechCrunch that two major tech firms, Facebook and Autodesk, would offer financial support to the group, allowing it to add new full-time and part-time employees.

“More importantly, what it’s done is provide us an opportunity to really become real, sound players, not only just in creating curriculum but also in starting to have meaningful programs with kids,” noted Maurice Woods, the group’s executive director, in comments to the website.

The nonprofit came to life after Woods, a former college basketball player for the University of Washington, chose to focus on design after it became clear a career with NBA was not in the cards. (The 6-foot-10 Woods did play professionally in Europe and Japan, however.)

Woods started the nonprofit in the Seattle area, using his ties to the youth center community to help launch the group. After spending time in the design agency world, he re-established the nonprofit in San Francisco with the support of the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) in 2008.

Beyond helping the organization staff up, both Autodesk and Facebook are lending some structure to the offerings. Facebook is helping Inneract build a design pathway, while Autodesk is helping Inneract develop a design bootcamp. Woods notes that the initiatives show local communities not just that design is a path forward—but that it exists as a form of creativity at all.

“We just haven’t had the resources to be able to dig as deep as we want to dig. It takes time and outreach,” Woods told TechCrunch. “Kids, parents, and administrators don’t really understand what design is entirely and how it fits in terms of not just an educational standpoint, but career standpoint.”

The new partnerships could help the group make its case.

Students in the Inneract Project's third Youth Design Academy, which met up earlier this year. (via the group's Facebook page)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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