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Black Creatives Institute

Noah Humes, Comm Arts ‘17
Noah Humes, ’17 BFA Communication Arts

Mission Statement:

Otis College’s Black Creatives Institute is focused on developing an inclusive and affirming campus climate for incoming Black-identified students in an effort to increase: student engagement, first- to second-year retention, and degree completion.

Program Goal:
Fostering community among Black-identified creatives by providing holistic support of their personal growth, identity formation, cultural development, and career development to create a stronger sense of belonging within the Otis College community.

Student Learning Outcomes:
As a result of participating in the summer bridge program, students will:

  1. Gain a strong network of creative colleagues through peer engagement and support.
  2. Explore and expand upon their identity as a Black creative.
  3. Develop tools around self-efficacy in order to foster self-confidence and personal empowerment as a Black creative.
  4. Gain an in-depth understanding about campus resources that will assist students in being successful personally, academically, and socially.
  5. Develop strategies and skillsets to actively engage in their academic experience, including studio preparation.

How to Register:
If you self-identify as a Black creative and are an incoming new student who would like to participate in this free program. Registration will open up in mid-May, 2021.

Register Now


Who is Eligible?:
All incoming new students are eligible for this program. This program is focused on Black-identity development and being a Black creative and will offer opportunities for students to self-explore and build connections around this focus.

Lanise Howard, Fine Arts ’20 with Kara Walker

Lanise Howard (’20 BFA Fine Arts), left, with artist Kara Walker

Program Will Take Place:
This year, the Black Creatives Institute will take place in-person in the Residence Hall on campus with a small contained group over the course of three days as an immersive experience prior to Orientation Week. Monthly meet-ups and programming throughout the academic year will take place as well. We will implement rapid COVID-19 tests prior to the start of the program, requiring all participants to move in August 14 in order to ensure everyone is safe. Students will be required to submit proof of vaccination or be able to receive the vaccine upon move-in, as well as a rapid test in order to be as safe as possible. Students can request an exemption (medical or religious/philosphical) from receiving the COVID-19 vaccine by going to the Student Health and Wellness website.

Participating students who are not fully vaccinated* need to move in on August 6 for their 7 day quarantine and testing.
* Students will be considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their second dose in a 2-dose series (such as Pfizer or Moderna) or two weeks after a single-dose vaccine (such as Johnson & Johnson's Janssen vaccine)

The program dates are as follows:

  • Sunday, August 15–Tuesday, August 17, 2021
  • Move-In will happen on Saturday, August 14 in order to account for rapid COVID-19 testing/vaccinations prior to the start of the program
    • students who are not fully vaccinated* need to move in on August 6 for their 7 day quarantine and testing.
  • Monthly Cultural Wealth Sessions, occuring September through April covering the following topics:
    • Academic Success and Resources
    • Career Development
    • Financial Literacy
    • Identity Development


Program Design At-A-Glance (all times are PDT):

  • August 14th
    Time Program/Activity Description
    1:00PM-2:00PM Move-In and Testing All students attending BCI and who plan to live on campus for the academic year will be moving in at this time. COVID-19 rapid testing will take place during move-in and/or proof of vaccinations will be required. 
    1:30PM-3:00PM Move-In and Testing All students attending BCI and just moving in for the weekend will begin to move in at this time, and should be prepared to take a rapid COVID-19 test and/or show proof of vaccination. 
    5:30PM-7:00PM Dinner and Housing Orientation All students will receive a brief housing orientation, and get to know each other.
    7:00PM "We're Not Really Strangers" - Student Led Actvitiy  Icebreaker activity for all participants.
  • August 15th
    Time Program/Activity Description
    9:00AM-10:00AM Welcome and Opening Keynote Leo Lawson, CEO of BOND Creative Management and President of The Vampire's Wife
    10:15AM-11:00AM Community Building and Expectations  
    11:00AM-12:00PM Black Staff and Faculty Panel Black staff and faculty at Otis College will provide insight into their background and experience to help students connect, and offer a space for students to ask questions and engage in meaningful conversation with these systems of support. 
    12:00PM-1:00PM Lunch  
    1:00PM-3:00PM StrengthsFinder Strengths-based assessment provides students with identified language to help them articulate what their strengths are- how they can use these strengths personally, with their academic experience, and weave in resilience building.This is a non-deficit approach to a guided facilitated workshop and discussion about the strengths each Black Creative brings to their experience as a artist and designer at Otis College.
    3:15PM-4:30PM Creating the Black Creative Guided discussion with some multimedia engagement to begin the conversation with students around what it means to be a Black Creative within the art and design world.
    4:30PM-5:30PM Where I'm From A guided activity to help students begin to think about their own multiple and intersecting identities through their lived experiences
    5:30PM-6:30PM Dinner and Wrap Up  
    6:30PM-8:00PM Paint 'N Sip - Student Led Activity  Social activity led by RAs and Peer Mentors with painting happening on our Freedom Wall.
  • August 16th
    Time Program/Activity Description  
    8:30AM Travel to Metaphor Club We will host our morning sessions at a locate BIPOC Artist space known as the Metaphor Club, located in and around Leimert Park/Crenshaw District of Los Angeles.   
    9:00AM-9:15AM Revisit Community Expectations    
    9:15AM-12:00PM Identity Development Session Begin an exploratory excercise with students around identity formation and development as a Black student.  
    12:00PM-12:30PM  BREAK Head back to campus  
    12:30PM-2:00PM Lunch Discussion: Student Panel Real Talk" Continuing students who identify as Black creatives share their Otis College experience, what it means to be a Black creative, and how they navigate systems that have sometimes been challenging based on their identity as a Black person, as a creative, or both.  
    2:00PM-2:30PM  BREAK    
    2:30PM-4:00PM  BOND Mentor Panel Discussion: Networking, Relationships, and Making the most of your mentors This session will feature 4-5 BOND mentors who will connect with our students on what the mentor program does, how to the make the most of it, and the importance of networking.  
    4:15PM-5:00PM  Burnout - No Thank You Recognize signs of burnout and develop coping mechanisms to assist in building resilience and self-love/self-healing.  
    5:30pm-6:30pm  Dinner Social engagement opportunity for current students and Black Creatives Institute participants to come together, connect, and build community.   
    6:30PM-8:00PM Game Night - Student Led Activity Game night hosted by our RAs and Peer Mentors.  
  • August 17th
    Time Program/Activity Description
    9:00AM-10:00AM  Check In and Reflection Check in on the last few days of sessions and events.
    10:00AM-11:30AM  Self-Portrait Exploration Reflecting on the last few days, design a self-portrait that reflect who you are, you values, passions, identity, strengths, and other identifiers that best depicts aspects of who you are as an emerging Black Creative.
    11:30AM-1:00PM Lunch and Learn: Self-Portrait Share Participants will be able to grab lunch and share each of their reflective self-portraits with the group. 
    1:00PM-1:30PM  Closing Speaker Chrysta Burton, Exec. Vice President for Physical Production, Bad Robot Productions
    1:30PM-2:30PM  Move Out and Departures Those living on campus for the fall semester will be able to remain in their assigned rooms.
Zoe Whitley and Students

Gena Smith (’21 BFA Fine Arts), right, with curator Zoe Whitley


All Participants will receive the following upon successful completion of the program:

  • Industry Mentor - Students will be paired with a mentor who works in the art and design industry as a mid to senior level creative, and in the area of focus the student is interested in. These mentors are connected to BOND Creative, which is an agency that places creatives across various art and design organizations. 
  • Faculty Mentor - All students will receive a faculty mentor who will be their source of connection to Otis College and serve as a support person through their first year. 
  • $100 Graphaids Gift Card: All students will receive $100 gift card to Graphaids, the College's art supply store. 

Program Fee:
This program is completely FREE! All interested students must register for the program and will receive more information on the program schedule. 

Can I Participate Virtually?: 
All students participating in this program are ecouraged to participate in the program in-person, and to live in the residence hall for free during the program. Each program session will build upon each other and provide a comprehensive experience that will allow students to build community among each other while networking with creative mentors such as faculty, staff, and continuing students. The Black Creatives Institute will also offer social programming in the evenings for incoming new students to get to know each other in a more casual way, allowing them to develop a sense of belonging with our Otis community. However, if students must participate 100% virtually, they can do so during certain events, as not all events will have virtual options. We will work with the participants around which events they will eb able to access and attend and be sure they are still able to gain a meaningful experience.