In Inaugural Cycle, REA Fund Supports Diverse Projects United by Pursuit of Equity and Anti-Racism

The inaugural REA Fund projects, ranging from the individual to the institutional, have come to fruition in recent months, illustrating the diversity and depth of inquiry the fund has supported.

The GSD’s Racial Equity and Anti-Racism Fund commenced in September 2020 to raise awareness of how race, racism, and racial injustice affect society—especially by and through design professions—and to promote a culture of anti-racism at the GSD. The REA Fund is the first of its kind to support racial equity and anti-racism not only at the GSD or Harvard University but for all peer design schools.

Whether it was through one-time initiatives, community-wide programming, or semester-long classes, the REA Fund has created an innovative pathway for us to incorporate anti-racism into our community fabric and help create a GSD where many voices can be heard, and all people can thrive.

Naisha Bradley Chief Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging Officer

“The REA Fund has been a vehicle to bring the GSD together,” says Naisha Bradley, Chief Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging Officer at the GSD. “Over this first year, we’ve had strong community input and were able to support initiatives from multiple constituencies at the school. Whether it was through one-time initiatives, community-wide programming, or semester-long classes, the REA Fund has created an innovative pathway for us to incorporate anti-racism into our community fabric and help create a GSD where many voices can be heard, and all people can thrive.”

The fund has sought stakeholders from around the GSD to consider the sorts of programming and dialogue that have been missing and to suggest solutions. It has also prioritized the need for immediate or accelerated change alongside longer-term, ongoing work connecting design and anti-racist practice.

“The REA Fund serves as one action of a holistic approach to institutional transformation,” explains Esther Weathers, Associate Director of Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging. “It requires the GSD community to pause and take stock of where we are now and imagine what could be possible. By distributing resources to faculty, researchers, staff, and students alike, we lower barriers and empower everyone to be a leader in cultivating a GSD for all.”

Map of the US from 1900 cencus

This 1900 census map is part of data the REA-funded CoDesign Field Lab research seminar worked to gather, analyze, and illustrate in order to make a case for the Black Belt region as prime siting for Green New Deal initiatives.

 

The REA Fund is critical to addressing the historical and systemic inequities at the School. Contributions to the REA fund are investments supporting future design leaders; my gift is a small step towards making the GSD and the design fields more equitable.

Peter Coombe MArch '88 Chair of the GSD Alumni Council. member of the Dean's Leadership Council, and REA Fund donor

GSD Alumni and friends rallied to support the fund, raising over $100,000 for student-, staff-, and faculty-led initiatives to ensure that the values of diversity, inclusion, and belonging are embedded in the fabric of the GSD. “The REA Fund is critical to addressing the historical and systemic inequities at the school,” said Peter Coombe MArch ’88, Chair of the GSD Alumni Council, member of the Dean’s Leadership Council, and REA Fund donor. “Contributions to the REA fund are investments supporting future design leaders; my gift is a small step towards making the GSD and the design fields more equitable.”

The inaugural REA Fund projects, ranging from the individual to the institutional, have come to fruition in recent months, illustrating the diversity and depth of inquiry the fund has supported. A list of projects is featured below. To read about project highlights, please see this article on the GSD website.

REA Fund recipients