One School provides free virtual portfolio programming for Black creatives

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Associate Creative Director at Spotify Dominique Wynne serves as the school head at One School Atlanta. Her hope is that she can expose Black creatives to what’s available to them in the advertising industry.

By Megan Sayles
AFRO Business Writer
Report for America Corps Member
msayles@afro.com

Although the advertising industry has begun to introduce more inclusive brand marketing, the industry’s workplaces still lack diversity. According to Statista, only 6.6% of employees in advertising, public relations and related services were Black or African American compared to 85.4% for their White counterparts. 

One organization that is working to close this gap is The One Club for Creativity, a nonprofit dedicated to the global creative community. In 2020, the organization created the One School, which gives Black creatives access to a free portfolio program led by Spotify Creative Director Oriel Davis-Lyons. The One School currently has branches in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Atlanta, but its programming is entirely virtual so creatives from all over the world can apply. This fall semester’s application deadline is Sept. 10. 

According to Dominique Wynne, school head for One School Atlanta, individuals that are looking to work in the advertising industry must first have a portfolio, which may lead them to attend advertising schools to jumpstart their careers. However, the tuition at these institutions is expensive, which generates barriers to entry for Black creatives. 

“Basically what the One School does is take that cost of the two-year top portfolio schools and makes it free for Black creatives,” said Wynne. “We select which creatives are able to get into the program, and then remove the barrier for the lack of representation for people that are pursuing a career in the industry.” 

The program runs for 16 weeks and meets twice a week. Tuesdays are considered lecture nights where students hear from creative officers and directors about how to succeed in the advertising industry. On Thursdays, students participate in hands-on tutorials and receive their advertising brief for the week from real brands. The curriculum covers subjects that include social media, film, public relations, data-driven storytelling and moonshots. 

“We also bring in other Black creatives who are at a higher level, which is amazing because the students can actually see people who look like them and get their perspective as to how they got there and where they are now,” said Wynne.

Upon the conclusion of the program, students will boast a complete portfolio that showcases their expertise. Advertising agencies will have access to the portfolios over the course of the program, helping students with exposure and job placement. 

For Wynne, the importance of this program lies in its accessibility. When she first started out in the creative industry, she didn’t know that working as an art director or copywriter was an option for her. The One School not only exposes students to successful creatives but also to job possibilities that may have otherwise been unaware of. 

“It’s really the entire gamut of Black creatives that we are looking to tap into and really help hone in on their skills,” said Wynne. 

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