The design industry is dominated by white folks, with the BIPOC community grossly underrepresented. Now, a new, pay-what-you-can online design curriculum called Useful School has just been launched to address these inequities, led by Ritesh Gupta, the senior director of New Product Ventures at Gannett.
“I never really liked school,” Gupta shares on the Useful School site. “It was boring, and I never felt like I learned anything I needed to get the gigs I wanted. So I had the idea to build Useful School. Something useful, fun, affordable, and catered to the people who needed it. Plus, a sick logo.”
Gupta has experienced firsthand how the design world excludes people of color, motivating him to create an equitable curriculum that centers those that have been unjustly sidelined and pushed to the margins for too long.
“We as people of color deserve an inclusive approach that’s radically different from the closed-minded, repressed educational institutions that aren’t built to teach or celebrate the success of people of color,” Gupta said in a press release. “Useful School is on a mission to increase representation of people of color in creative industries while having fun doing it. We want to see change at every level of the working life—we want to increase the total talent pool as well as improve chances of promotions and opening practices.”
The Useful School curriculum was developed for the BIPOC community from top to bottom, from constraining certain projects and utilizing fonts exclusively created by BIPOC to helping students answer questions they might face at work. “The school’s branding has been purposely created to feel different from a typical school,” Gupta adds. “The colors and tone are different. The logo is different. We made a concerted effort to only use fonts from people of color.”
Applicants will get accepted into Useful School on a rolling basis, so interested students are encouraged to apply early. Classes will help students build out their portfolios and develop the skills necessary for a career in design and feature guest speakers throughout each 10-week course.
For those looking to support Useful School, you can give now to help fund its unique and inclusive pay structure.