ONE School For Black Creatives Expands To Four Markets

Kevin Swanepoel: One Club Addresses ‘Diversity Pipeline Problem’ 


The One Club for Creativity is doubling the scope of its ONE School free portfolio program for Black creatives with expansion to Chicago and Atlanta. In combination with its existing New York and Los Angeles schools, the program will introduce a minimum of 120 new Black creatives into the industry this year.  That will follow the initial 30 NY and LA ONE School graduates from last Fall. Applications for all four markets are now being accepted, with a deadline of March 7.

The new schools will be co-run in Chicago by a pair of top creatives at Burrell Communications – Lewis Williams, chief creative officer and Terrence Burrell, VP, creative director – and in Atlanta by Sherman Winfield, executive creative director at VMLY&R. They will work closely with Spotify creative director Oriel Davis-Lyons, who runs the overall ONE School program and heads the New York school, and Ez Blaine, ECD at ChowNow, who handles the program in Los Angeles.

ONE School briefs are written by Black strategists and taught by Black tutors and lecturers, and students are paired with Black mentors in the industry.  The program also eschews a traditional teacher-student dynamic, with tutors and mentors providing an open forum to discuss important issues of culture and personal confidence. The program goes beyond simply teaching how to put a book together: it also focuses on how to navigate the industry while Black.

“It’s not enough to just come up with great creative ideas, you also have to know how to manage agency culture and clients,” said Burrell’s Lewis Williams.  “I want to help young Black creatives be successful in communicating in that world without compromising who they are, and that’s central to the ONE School mission.” Burrell’s Terrence Burrell added “You have to see it, to be it.  ONE School will open doors that many don’t know exist.  There are plenty of talented people who just need to know there’s an industry in need of them and, more importantly, there are people who look like them who are not only succeeding, but also here to help them do the same.” And observes VMLY&R’s Sherman Winfield, who previously worked with The One Club on its Creative Boot Camps for diverse college students: “As a native of Richmond VA, I can attest that the South has forever been a hotbed for creative talent, ranging from music, the arts to now film, especially in Atlanta. The talent that agencies are looking for is here, and initiatives like ONE School can tap into it and solve one of the biggest issues facing our industry today: the pipeline.”

Applicants are selected based on raw creativity, passion and commitment so as not to discourage those with no prior knowledge of advertising.  They must submit a brief video on why they want to be an advertising creative, provide examples of their creativity in personal or professional projects, and respond to a brief.  The free online school runs two nights a week for 16 weeks, with students getting 10 briefs over the course covering everything from OOH to Innovation and Data-Driven Storytelling.  Due to the hands-on mentoring aspect of the program, enrollment in each city is limited to 15 students who have not previously attended an ad school.

ONE School launched last September, with the first group of 30 participants in the NY and LA courses set to graduate this month and have their portfolios reviewed by sponsor agencies and brands, who have first opportunities for hiring.  Some of the graduates have even asked if they can serve as teaching assistants for the Spring program.  In addition to this first group of graduates, 79 applicants who weren’t accepted into the program last fall were placed by The One Club in mentorships with a number of leading agencies and are eligible to reapply for the Spring sessions.

Strong Industry Support

The One Club also announced it has received an Epic MegaGrant from Epic Games, a leading interactive entertainment company and developer of  Unreal Engine.  The MegaGrant will be used to help provide support to program operations for all four cities. “Real-time 3D skills are in tremendous demand, and Unreal Engine is an extremely powerful tool that can unlock an array of new opportunities in games, advertising, and beyond. We are proud to support ONE School and its mission to broaden access to resources for all creators through the Epic MegaGrants program,” said John Buzzell, Advertising Industry Lead, Americas, at Epic Games.

Agencies coming on board this month to sponsor seats for the new cities are closerlook, inc. Chicago, Curiosity Cincinnati and Mischief New York.

“Creatives, agencies and brands committed to helping solve the diversity pipeline problem have rushed to support ONE School because makes a concrete contribution to increasing diversity in advertising,” said Kevin Swanepoel, CEO, The One Club.  “It’s a meaningful action that will enable us to bring a minimum of 120 talented Black creatives into agencies and brands this year, and we’re thrilled to have Lewis, Terrence and Sherman on the team to help make that happen in Chicago and Atlanta.”

Partners and sponsors include Spotify, Adobe and Adweek as well as BBDO, C&G Partners, Capital One, Chobani, The Coca-Cola Company, COLLINS, The Community, Contagious,  DAVID, DDB, Dentsu McGarryBowen, Droga5, Deutsch, Edelman, Facebook, Fallon, FCB, Goodby Silverstein & Partners, Google Brand Studio, Google Creative Lab, GUT, Heat+Deloitte Digital, Hill Holiday, JOAN, Leo Burnett Group, The Martin Agency, McCann Worldgroup, McKinney, Ogilvy, Publicis Media, Quigley-Simpson, R/GA, Restaurant Brands International, Rauxa, S4 Capital, Social Club Seltzer, Squarespace, Team One, Vans, VF Corporation  and WPP.