WISCONSIN (News release) -- Quad/Graphics, Inc. and the Quadracci family's Windhover Foundation are announcing a three-year, $1 million commitment to The BrandLab, a non-profit dedicated to changing the face and voice of the marketing industry by creating opportunities for young people from diverse ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds. This new partnership will enable The BrandLab to expand into the Milwaukee community and bring together local agencies, corporations and student interns who identify as Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC), or who come from low-income families. Already operational in Kansas City and Minneapolis, The BrandLab's success in bringing young, diverse voices into the creative profession directly aligns with Quad's decades-long dedication to creating a better way.
"The BrandLab starts by exposing students to creative and viable careers before they graduate from high school and then we stay with them on their journey to their first full-time role," said Ellen Walthour, Chief Executive Officer of The BrandLab. "This is a long-term solution that requires long-range vision from the industry's top leaders. Quad understands that our work not only advances racial equity, but it makes the creative field so much stronger."
Quad's partnership with The BrandLab will provide the organization with a long-term foundation to begin operating in the Milwaukee area and identify internship opportunities, through support from local agencies and corporations, for students who identify as BIPOC or qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. The interns will work among the region's advertising and marketing departments in roles that emphasize creativity and innovation, and that will grow over time to permanent positions.
"I am such a huge believer in what The BrandLab has accomplished and how much more impact is to come," said Frank Crowson, Chief Marketing Officer of Best Buy and member of The BrandLab's Board of Directors. "Quad's support will be instrumental in pushing that impact toward its full potential. I look forward to continuing to change the face and voice of our industry together with Quad as our partner."
Since 2009, The BrandLab has exposed thousands of classroom students to creative careers and placed more than 500 interns in corporations and agencies, 90% of whom now have plans to pursue a path in the industry. Dozens of alumni have secured full-time positions in the creative field, and hundreds have been paired with professional mentors who will help them navigate their professional paths.
"I am thrilled to see The BrandLab launch its program in Milwaukee. As we all know, fostering a more inclusive workforce is a key priority for the marketing and advertising community," said Mat Lignel, CEO and President of Milwaukee-based agency Laughlin Constable. "The BrandLab has proven, over time and in different cities, that it can help drive a meaningful difference. Its focus on high school students is the key to introducing a new generation to our industry, and our team at Laughlin Constable is committed to helping on that journey."
According to research conducted by The BrandLab, 93% of corporations and agencies say diversifying their workforce is important to them, yet only 67% feel they have initiatives in place to expand workplace diversity. Quad recognizes the role The BrandLab plays in giving companies the tools they need to make those goals a reality.
"We are committed to being a catalyst for change to advance diversity and equity in the advertising and marketing profession, because we know that our work is only our best work when it reflects different voices, mindsets, experiences and perspectives" said Joel Quadracci, Chairman and CEO of Quad. "We have seen first-hand through Periscope, our agency in Minneapolis, how The BrandLab is building the infrastructure needed to bring a more inclusive perspective to the field, and we are thrilled to support this expansion into Milwaukee."
Quad recently announced a contribution to the Brandcenter at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) that will boost efforts to foster equity and drive change. Quad's partnership with the Brandcenter will directly support the Brandcenter & Rising Endowed Scholarship, which provides need-based assistance to diverse students looking to make an impact in the fields of advertising, marketing, branding and communications.
"This is just another step in what you will continue to see from Quad as we work toward intensifying our commitment to achieving a workforce that reflects the communities where we live and work," said Quadracci. "We can only be our best, do our best work for our customers, and attract and retain the best talent when we are intentional in making diversity, equity and inclusion a priority."