Launched in 2023, the LAF Ignite program will build to 15 annual participants.
LAF Ignite is a comprehensive Scholarship + Internships + Mentorship program for BIPOC college students, providing participants with an annual $10,000 scholarship, annual paid summer internship, and access to mentors throughout their educational path.
Each year, 3-5 students are accepted into Ignite and participate until they have completed their landscape architecture degree. Each new cohort joins the group from past years, with up to 15 Ignite participants total.
Inaugural LAF Ignite awardees
Four participants (top row) were selected for the inaugural cohort of the LAF Ignite program, which got underway in January 2023.
Also recognized are five finalists who stood out during the Ignite selection process (second and third row). These students will have access to LAF’s network for mentorship and internship opportunities.
Rhode Island School of Design
Originally from Chicago, Naomi's desire to help her community led her to The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), where she received a degree in Crop Sciences: Horticultural Food Systems. Studying at UIUC, Naomi's curiosities expanded to design, leading to her graduate studies at RISD. Currently, Naomi is in the process of shifting her work to be more aligned with her interest in psychology and mental health. She aims to push for her designs to incorporate biomimicry and environmental psychology methodology as a baseline when thinking about curating a landscape.
University of Georgia
Ezra wants to use the built environment to promote sustainable and reciprocal relationships between communities and the environment. She also wants to design spaces that could be used for horticulture education and food production for local communities as a harm reduction strategy to address food deserts, while spurring community investment and emphasizing the importance of historic preservation. Ezra hopes to design spaces that uplift the community and contribute to the health and safety of a population and their environment.
University of Washington
Shantol developed an interest in drawing and painting at an early age. With a few architectural design studios under her belt, Shantol completed her Associate degree in the arts at Broward Community College in Florida, then moved west to Seattle, Washington, inspired by the prospect of beautiful views and innovative design. Traveling while studying and working in the field is one of her career aspirations. Representation of diverse cultures and designing with the context of how people feel in space and what they bring to a space is an area of focus for her. She is currently pursuing a minor in Anthropology to pursue this relationship.
University of Pennsylvania
After receiving a Bachelor of Science in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation at the University of Delaware, Charlye is pursuing an MLA with an interest in designing spaces to promote wildlife conservation, green infrastructure, innovative technology, and corporate social responsibility. Charlye hopes to research the dramatic slowdown in human activity caused by the pandemic along with the ways in which humans may better coexist with wildlife on a day-to-day basis. One day, she hopes to have her own apiary.
University of Maryland
Born in the Baltimore area, Isiah knew from an early age that he wanted to improve his community’s conditions, but he didn’t know how to do it. Through landscape architecture, Isiah realized that designing public parks, sports fields, community gardens, and other spaces can uplift and create bonds within a community. His goals are to create parks and public spaces tailored to the greater community's needs as well as future users of these spaces.
Illinois Institute of Technology
Originally from Toledo, Ohio, Maurice began his career as a carpenter before moving to Chicago to attend the Illinois Institute of Art- Chicago and received a Bachelor of Interior Design. After graduation he worked for 12 senior designers at the Macy’s Interior Design studio. During the great recession he began his career as Energy Auditor/ Quality Control Inspector. Maurice A. Gaston assessed 1200+ low-income homes and Final Inspected 500+ low-income homes. 2015 He founded Mainstream Architectural Group LLC a green construction company which is currently performing energy audits for the department of energy weatherization program. Since founding his company he has studied solar panel design and became a home inspector. He is now a student in the Masters of Architecture and Master of Landscape Architecture + Urbanism Dual Program at the Illinois Institute of Technology. After graduation, he plans to expand Mainstream Architectural Group LLC as a full-time firm specializing in green energy, sustainability, landscape ecology, and preservation to revitalization communities.
University of Wisconsin
Kareem is a Washington, D.C. native with an interest in exploring the intersection of mental health and landscape architecture, while seeing how we can save our world with landscape architecture. During his time outside of studios, he enjoys tutoring in various subjects.
North Carolina A&T State University
Carington's journey to landscape architecture began while traveling around the United States with her mother, who was a landscape architect and horticulturist. Throughout Carington's childhood, she was repeatedly exposed to the impact that nature has to offer to the surrounding communities. Inspired by her mother, Carington decided to take her interest in nature further to study how landscape can influence different generations. Her interest in landscape architecture has bloomed and is now focused on designing spaces that connect the communities to the landscape surrounding them.
North Carolina State University
Amira is a New Orleans native currently residing in North Carolina to pursue her educational dreams. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. While attending, she was an Undergraduate Research Scholar and a Phi Kappa Phi organization member. While attending North Carolina A&T, her love for nature and spending time outdoors grew as she took time to explore local parks and regional hiking trails. Her appreciation for nature drew her attention to indifferences in green spaces within Greensboro's urban communities, causing her to further examine access discrepancies throughout the United States. Her curiosity allowed her to pursue earning her Master of Landscape Architecture as a first-year student attending North Carolina State University. While here, Amira is investigating ways to mitigate the lack of green space to improve mental and physical health within urban Black and Brown communities.