DesignPhiladelphia Launches the Groundbreaking JADE Fellowship Program

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Philadelphia, PA. May 23, 2024 – DesignPhiladelphia, a beacon of innovation and inclusivity in the design community, is proud to announce the launch of the Justice Alliance in Design Education (JADE) Fellowship. This groundbreaking initiative, in partnership with local colleges and universities, aims to cultivate a diverse and inclusive culture within the architecture and design education space in Philadelphia. The JADE Fellowship is inspired by the success of programs like the Posse Foundation and is rooted in the conviction that a small, diverse group of talented students can drive significant individual and community development.

Launching in the summer of 2024, the JADE Fellowship will support a cohort of undergraduate students from underrepresented communities in local architecture programs. These efforts underscore Philadelphia's commitment to creating a community and culture that not only fosters personal career growth for students but also promotes a more inclusive and just environment for all design students and emerging professionals.

The JADE Fellowship's core goals include:

1.      Supporting Career and Leadership Development: Offering JADE Fellows access to leadership and professional-development training, career exposure, and mentorship opportunities.

2.     Creating a More Inclusive and Connected Design Community: Ensuring everyone in the design ecosystem feels valued and included.

3.     Encouraging JADE Fellows and Alumni to Continue Design Education, Pursue Careers in Design, and Stay in Philadelphia: Strengthening the city's reputation as a hub of design talent and innovation.

We are honored to introduce our first cohort of JADE Fellows for the year 2024, each embodying the spirit and potential of this initiative:

·       Katie Koji from Drexel University, whose remarkable resilience and commitment to sustainability and innovation in design have made her a standout student and community member.

·       Beamlak Sahle from Temple University, who aspires to create essential and sustainable infrastructure within Ethiopia's rural communities, highlighting her passion for community-oriented design.

·       Simone Sawyer from the University of Pennsylvania, whose leadership on and off the basketball court, coupled with her dedication to mental health advocacy and design, represents her holistic approach to excellence.

·       Sofia Maruri Gaitan, showcasing outstanding academic achievement at the Community College of Philadelphia and a unique blend of architectural prowess and professional salsa dancing.

·       Yoselynn Martinez from Thomas Jefferson University, actively working towards a more inclusive architectural field through her engagement with National Organization of Minority Architectural Students (NOMAS) and diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, reflecting her commitment to design justice.

Rebecca Johnson, the Executive Director of DesignPhiladelphia, shared her enthusiasm for the program: "Through the JADE Fellowship, we are not just supporting individual talents; we are actively shaping an inclusive, welcoming, and diverse design community right here in Philadelphia. These students are the catalysts for change, representing our collective aspirations for a city designed for and by everyone."

The JADE Fellowship is a significant step toward realizing DesignPhiladelphia's vision of a Philadelphia that excels in design inclusivity, collaboration, and excellence. By supporting these outstanding Fellows, the initiative paves the way for a more diverse and vibrant design community.

To learn more about the JADE Fellowship and the incredible journeys of our 2024 Fellows, please visit DesignPhiladelphia website.

About DesignPhiladelphia

DesignPhiladelphia champions a vibrant design community, committed to excellence, inclusivity, and connections from K through career. With a focus on multidisciplinary design education, an annual festival, and public programs, DesignPhiladelphia aims to create economic opportunities in underserved communities, support the region's design industry, and position Philadelphia as a global hub of design excellence.

For media inquiries, please contact:  Rebecca Johnson,; (mobile) 215-266-9232


About DesignPhiladelphia Community

We foster a vibrant design community from K through Career committed to excellence, inclusivity and connections. As an invaluable partner in Philadelphia’s progress we do that through multidisciplinary design education, our annual festival, and public programs about design.

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