In March 2016, the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City, the Council of Fashion Designers of America, and the New York City Economic Development Corporation announced the launch of the NYC Fashion Forward initiative, which will connect 100 New York City high school and undergraduate college students to internships with fashion companies across the city. In the same month, the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City made another announcement with the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, pledging to provide financial backing for 100 paid summer internships within small- to mid-sized media and entertainment businesses.
These new initiatives follow several recommendations from CUF’s research. Our 2015 Creative New York report revealed that high real estate costs, large student debt burdens, and the pervasiveness of unpaid internships have combined to create formidable entry barriers into New York’s creative economy. We called on the city to help arts organizations and creative businesses pay their interns. These new initiatives will do just that.
This paid internship programs also reflect CUF’s work to improve the city’s workforce development programs. Our 2013 Bridging the Disconnect report highlighted and advocated for the expansion of Ladders for Leaders, a nationally recognized program that provides approximately 200 youth with meaningful, employer-paid work experiences each year. Both NYC Fashion Forward and the collaboration between the Mayor’s Fund and MOME follow our recommendation by modeling their initiatives on Ladders for Leaders and building on that program's success.
Photo: Joseph Younis