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RIBA funds new bursary programme to boost equality and racial diversity in architecture

Today, 13 September 2021, on what would have been Stephen Lawrence’s 47th birthday, we are honoured to announce a new collaboration between the Stephen Lawrence Day Foundation and The London School of Architecture.

13 September 2021

Left to right: Dr Neal Shasore, Head of School and CEO at the London School of Architecture; Simon Allford, Architect and RIBA President; Baroness Doreen Lawrence; Elsie Owusu OBE, Architect and former RIBA Council Member. © Morley von Sternberg

At the instigation of former RIBA Council member Elsie Owusu OBE, RIBA has donated £30,000 to the Stephen Lawrence Day Foundation (SLDF) which, in turn, selected students from The London School of Architecture (LSA) as the final beneficiaries.

These generous awards are in recognition of Stephen Lawrence’s talent and aspiration to become an architect, before he was killed in an unprovoked racist attack in 1993. By the date of Stephen’s 50th birthday on 13 September 2024, we hope the students, inspired by Stephen, will have completed Part 3 of their architectural training and entered successful careers in architecture.

RIBA and Elsie Owusu OBE are committed to the promotion of equality, diversity and inclusion in the profession of architecture. In recognition of those commitments, RIBA has made the funding available to one or more programmes of activity that are exclusively committed to the development of equality, diversity and inclusion in the profession of architecture.

The commitment to fund a programme of work, with the LSA, will address the historic and current underrepresentation of Black and other racialised people in the architecture profession. Further information on the LSA’s intended programme of work will be announced over the coming weeks.

With support from Elsie Owusu and RIBA, the LSA will also be launching a major fundraising campaign to extend the new bursary programme and provide further funding for initiatives to promote equality in architectural education.

The Stephen Lawrence Day Foundation, The London School of Architecture and RIBA will support each other to break down structural barriers and create a more inclusive and equitable built environment sector.

Architect and former RIBA Council Member, Elsie Owusu OBE said:

“I am delighted to have chosen the Stephen Lawrence Day Foundation as the recipient of this donation. The architectural aspirations of a talented young man, whose life cruelly ended, should act as a positive force in tackling the systemic racial and gender discrimination in the architecture and the construction industries. I look forward to working with RIBA and SLDF to support these talented people from the LSA, as they become successful architects, inspired by Stephen’s example.”

Baroness Doreen Lawrence said:

“I’m delighted to receive this donation to the Stephen Lawrence Day Foundation. I am keen that we support young Black architects to realise Stephen’s dream. This donation will definitely have an impact in creating the legacy of change the new Foundation has been set up to deliver.”

The London School of Architecture Head of School and CEO, Dr Neal Shasore, said:

“It is a privilege and an honour to work with Baroness Lawrence and the Stephen Lawrence Day Foundation on their work in this area. With this generous preliminary funding from the RIBA, the LSA is designing an ambitious programme that creates opportunity, enables dialogue and serves as a call to action. With Elsie Owusu’s support, we want to use this donation as a springboard for an ambitious programme to tackle enduring systemic barriers to diversity in architecture. We welcome the support of the architectural profession at large in achieving this.”

RIBA CEO, Alan Vallance said:

"We are very pleased to support this targeted new programme of work to promote and broaden access to the profession. Through projects like this, working in collaboration with individuals and organisations with experience and expertise, we can break down the discriminatory barriers that continue to prevent talented people from studying and practising architecture.”

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