New Graduate Student Award Program Blends Scholarships and Mentorship

Bob FischRobert (Bob) Fisch, founder and former chairman and CEO of rue21, award-winning author of Fisch Tales: The Making of a Millennial Baby Boomer, and a member of the FIT Foundation board of directors, has launched the Bob Fisch Graduate Student Award Program.

The program, which includes a $300,000 gift and an intergenerational mentoring strategy, features an award for entrepreneurial excellence, thesis project grants, and graduate scholarships for students in FIT’s Fashion Design MFA and Global Fashion Management MPS programs. Fisch—widely recognized as a pioneering merchant for his bold and successful innovations in value-priced, fast fashion retailing—will mentor students for an extraordinary one-on-one experience.

“Thanks to Bob’s commitment to nurturing creativity in the next generation of industry leaders, FIT is the proud recipient of this $300,000 gift,” said FIT President Joyce F. Brown. “It will establish an unprecedented series of opportunities that will benefit students in our graduate Global Fashion Management and Fashion Design programs.”

“I am delighted to present this gift to FIT to help nurture the careers of future leaders in the retail space,” Fisch said. “As the leading college of its kind in America, FIT serves as a major talent pipeline, which I hope to help enrich through the establishment of this new program. I’m a firm believer in the benefits of intergenerational bonding and mutual mentoring as there is much I can learn from the students’ questions and curiosity, just as they can learn from my answers and experience. I teach them business—they teach me life.”

The program includes:

  • a $25,000 award for entrepreneurial excellence, given to one standout recipient for the best business plan and design presented during the graduate capstone ceremony
  • 10 graduate scholarships for academic excellence, awarded to students in the Global Fashion Management and Fashion Design programs
  • 33 thesis-project completion grants for students in the Global Fashion Management MPS and Fashion Design MFA programs

In addition to establishing this awards program, Fisch is an active member of the FIT Foundation, guest lecturer, and mentor/advisor at FIT. Under Fisch’s leadership, rue21 was also the subject of FIT’s Fashion Merchandising Capstone Project in 2016.

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