• Transform magazine
  • February 25, 2021


Ad school and creative agency in Denver partner to close Colorado’s creative diversity gap

Black Creativity

The Denver Ad School (DAD) teamed up with Cactus, a Denver creative agency that works in mental health and wellness, to launch Black Creativity Matters an annual scholarship fund that’s designed to remove one of the biggest barriers of entry for young Black creatives into the advertising industry.

The project also aims to provide Colorado-based agencies with a consistent pipeline of black, portfolio school-trained talent who ready-to-work and looking to being their careers in the state. A collective of Colorado advertising agencies have committed to cover half the tuition for a black student, with DAD matching the agencies dollar-for-dollar to reach the objective of providing full-ride scholarships. Currently, nearly $160,000 dollars have been raised.

“We started DAD with the goal of making a quality, comprehensive portfolio program that was attainable for every student regardless of race, gender, orientation, or privilege. But right now, the black community needs our help the most. Together with these great local agencies, we’re saying enough is enough — it’s time to remove the biggest barriers to entry for black students and dismantle any ad agency’s tired excuses for not hiring more black creatives,” Jesse Alkire, Founder of the Denver Ad School, says. “

According to director of DAD Heather Vanisko, the initiative is about chancing a big part of our business that’s long overdue for a change.

“Different voices expose us to new ideas, which in turn allows us to be more thoughtful in our approach and messaging. It’s time for ad agencies to listen to what many of us have been saying for years — black creativity matters because it makes the work better,” says Vanisko.