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NC Textile Foundation Receives $100,000 Gift from VF Foundation to Ensure Student Success and Increase Diversity Programming

Researchers working in lab

With the support of a new $100,000 gift from the VF Foundation, the North Carolina Textile Foundation will expand graduate student support, enhance the experiences of scholarship recipients and increase diversity and inclusion programming within the Wilson College of Textiles.

The VF Foundation, which is the private grantmaking organization funded by the VF Corporation, will partner with the college to foster an inclusive and creative environment that honors and respects differences among students, faculty and staff.

Half of the gift — $50,000 — will be used to recruit and retain talented graduate students who are interested in researching sustainable textiles, apparel and footwear. 

As peer institutions offer potential graduate students fellowships and enhancement funds, it has become critical that the Wilson College of Textiles can provide competitive assistance packages to the best and brightest minds. Support from the VF Foundation will position the college as the first choice for graduate students who are creating solutions that will directly impact the environment, such as sustainable textile and manufacturing processes, waste minimization and supply chain recycling strategies.

“The work that students in the Wilson College are immersed in epitomizes our foundation’s mission to drive movements for the betterment of people and the planet,” Gloria Schoch, executive director of the VF Foundation and director of global impact for the VF Corporation, says. 

“These students will be designing the next generation of products to help foster a more sustainable fashion and apparel industry,” Schoch says. “We look forward to witnessing the innovations that these scholars create as they become contributing members to the field of textiles.”

The remainder of the VF Foundation’s gift will be split equally between the Textile Pioneer Scholars Enhancement Fund and the Wilson College of Textiles Diversity and Inclusion Fund. 

Creating once-in-a-lifetime experiences for Textile Pioneer Scholars

As the college’s first need-based scholarship, the Textile Pioneer Scholarship Program was created to provide access to students from North Carolina’s rural counties and first-generation university attendees. 

The Textile Pioneer Scholars Enhancement Fund provides each scholarship recipient with $4,000 in enrichment funds to accelerate their academic and professional careers. Students can use the funds to participate in one-on-one mentoring, advising and tutoring sessions, leadership and professional development programs, summer internships and study abroad opportunities. This fund also allows the college to quickly respond to emerging needs for incoming Textile Pioneer cohorts.

“This summer, I’m looking forward to using a portion of my enrichment funds to pay for housing during my internship with Macy’s home office in New York City,” Alex Hutchens, a Class of 2024 Textile Pioneer Scholar who is studying fashion and textile management, says.  

Alex Hutchens
Alex Hutchens, a Class of 2024 Textile Pioneer Scholar, will use funding from the Textile Pioneer Scholars Enhancement Fund — which will be expanded through the VF Foundation’s latest gift — during her internship at Macy’s home office in New York City.

Strengthening the college’s commitment to diversity

Diversity programming in the Wilson College of Textiles will also be boosted through support from the VF Foundation’s latest gift. 

In 2021, the college’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Committee was renamed and tasked with facilitating an atmosphere that increases intercultural, interracial and interdisciplinary awareness. Since then, the committee has conducted a community survey to gather opinions on programming needs, launched a book club to discuss literature related to diversity, equity and inclusion, provided training to committee members and brought multiple DEI speakers to campus. 

“With support from the VF Foundation, our committee can continue providing — and also increase — offerings to strengthen the college’s commitment to diversity and inclusion,” Delisha Hinton, who serves as the co-chair of the DEI Committee and the college’s associate director of student services for recruitment and diversity, says. “We can provide the Wilson Wolfpack with programming that will not only impact individuals in our college but also those connected to them.”

One such initiative is the funding of DEI mini grants. These $500 grants supplement the costs for students, faculty and staff to participate in training sessions, conferences, research and immersion activities that will further their understanding of diversity, inclusion and equity.

Fan Zhang, a fiber and polymer science doctoral student, used her 2021 mini grant to travel to the Joint Symposium of the U.S. Society for Biomaterials and the Japan Society for Biomaterials. This conference was particularly meaningful to her because, as she remarked, “one of the ways to encourage women empowerment is by providing women with the opportunity to participate and contribute to the research community.” 

Fan Zhang
A 2021 Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) mini grant allowed doctoral student Fan Zhang to present her research at a national biomaterial conference. Funding from the VF Foundation will make more opportunities like this possible.

During the conference, Zhang connected with female leaders in the field and discussed obstacles that they’ve experienced and how they overcame them. She left exhilarated, inspired and ready to share what she’d learned with her peers.

Continued support of the world’s leading college devoted to textiles

The VF Foundation’s generous support of the Wilson College of Textiles began in 2017. Support from the foundation has grown the college’s Summer Textile Exploration Program (STEP), which educates high school students about the textiles field and aims to recruit a diverse applicant pool for academic programs. 

Additionally, the VF Foundation’s support has facilitated industry-leading research to elevate apparel and textile products and experiences. The VF Corporation’s supply chain team has continuously funded senior design capstone projects within the college.

“Support from the VF Foundation and generous donors make our college’s groundbreaking work possible,” says Michael Ward, who serves as the executive director of the North Carolina Textile Foundation — which is the charitable arm of the Wilson College of Textiles. “Through this continued partnership, the North Carolina Textile Foundation and the VF Foundation are working together to empower our students and faculty to solve real-world problems in the textile field and position our college as an innovation powerhouse.”

As of 2020, the VF Foundation has supported 31 scholarships and two graduate fellowships at NC State within three colleges: the Wilson College of Textiles, the College of Design and the Poole College of Management. These scholarships have benefited more than 3,500 NC State students, including five Class of 2024 Textile Pioneer Scholarship recipients — four of whom are first-generation college students.

“As a world leader in textile education, the college is striving to create a sustainable and equitable industry,” Patrick Tewksbury, vice president of global indirect procurement at the VF Corporation, says. 

“Since 2017, we have chosen to support the Wilson College of Textiles as it works to recruit, retain and educate talented students — from a wide variety of backgrounds — who will help tackle the textile industry’s most pressing challenges.”

The VF Foundation has granted more than $50 million in funding and reached more than four million people in communities across the United States and around the world. It has leveraged its resources to support people, partners and causes that align with its purpose to create an equitable and sustainable world — a mission it shares with the Wilson College of Textiles.