College of Social and Behavioral Sciences

Designing your Future: Hip Hop Literacy School and TAPP Partnership

Posted on Monday, October 30th, 2017

This past summer, the Textiles and Apparel (TAPP) program within the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences (CSBS) partnered with the university’s Hip Hop Literacy Summer School for a Hip Hop Fashion STEM Day Camp. This collaboration between CSBS and the College of Education (COE) served middle and high school students enrolled in the summer school program who expressed an interest in fashion and design. These students spent a week exploring how to create a brand, design and print patterns in state-of-the-art industry software and equipment, and professionally present a concept.

Shuaib Meacham, associate professor of curriculum and instruction, is the director of UNI's Hip Hop Literacy Summer School. His summer-long program is what made the camp possible.

During the week-long camp, two UNI TAPP majors served as counselors and all three of the program’s full-time faculty members were involved. Morgan Kalkwarf, one of the UNI Textiles and Apparel majors that assisted with the camp, taught them how to use Adobe Illustrator, how to print and process fabric, basic sewing, and how to do testing on various textiles materials.

“I think it was important to keep the kids learning throughout summer, and not only learning but having the ability to learn a set of skills that is not often taught in K-12 grades,” said Morgan.

The camp also partnered with Target Corporation as part of a recruitment initiative to reach more diverse talent for their product development positions.

Annette Lynch, the camp director, stated, “Through this process, camp activities engaged participants in thinking about fashion as an empowerment strategy. Working in partnership with Target Corporation, students were exposed to the career paths available in the fashion industry.”

Target also sent two lead designers to campus as part of the camp, to work with the participants and provide helpful feedback on their designs. Because of this, the participants spent a day at Target headquarters in Minneapolis to perform their original hip hop compositions and present their brands to a crowd of Target presidents and professions.

This camp was aimed at increasing participation of underrepresented minorities in STEM, expose underrepresented minority students to careers in the fashion industry, increase efficacy of summer camp participants through hands on experiences in material testing lab, and to create a link between hip hop music and fashion. Camp attendees were given firsthand experience into the world of fashion and hip-hop and better insight into a possible career in these fields.

It even served as a learning experience for the UNI students who volunteered as counselors.

“I learned how important giving back to the community is, and how much of an impact you can make on someone by taking the time to talk with and teach them,” said Morgan.