Last month the American Institute of Architects (AIA) highlighted the impact of the Architects Foundation’s scholarship programs, featuring scholar Zuleika Baldeo and scholarship sponsor and mentor Clifford Curry, FAIA, in an article shared with AIA members. Check out the full article below, and on AIA’s website.

It’s not too late to make a contribution to the Architects Foundation’s year-end campaign to support this and other life-changing scholarship programs. In addition, your gifts to our annual campaign fund help amplify the impact of our educational programming, design assistance teams, and community engagement. The Architects Foundation is proud to be the official philanthropic partner of the AIA.

The Architects Foundation is Building Stronger Communities

A scholarship from the Architects Foundation helps a Baltimore architecture student hold her dream close and inspires her to mentor others. The Architects Foundation will launch its year end giving campaign on November 28 – Giving Tuesday.

Zuleika Baldeo was elated to become an Architects Foundation scholar.

“I was at a pool party with my cousins, and that’s when the email came in. I remember reading it, and I just started crying,” recalls Baldeo, a junior at Morgan State University in Baltimore. “We were all so happy, and then we obviously started jumping for joy.”

Baldeo received a Diversity Advancement Scholarship from the Architects Foundation (AF) in 2021. In addition to great happiness, the scholarship brought peace of mind to Baldeo as she invests her time and resources into becoming an architect.  “It really helps me a lot because I also work while in school. So, there are periods of time, especially when we are in our midterm season, when the scholarship gives me a bit of relief if I am not working as much,” said Baldeo. “I don’t feel in debt in some kind of way or worried about work, because I have a little bit of money saved that way.”

Baldeo is among the 80+ scholars supported by AF donors.

“The Architects Foundation invests in the next generation of diverse designers and inspires the public with programs and exhibits that spotlight architecture’s value to our world,” said Marci Reed, AF executive director. AF is AIA’s philanthropic partner.

Baldeo received the Curry Stone Foundation Diversity Advancement Scholarship, funded by Clifford Curry, FAIA, and Dr. Delight Stone, RPA. With their support, Baldeo will receive $20,000 per year for five years, which will support her as she enters graduate school.

“This scholarship is a way to encourage more diversity in the industry. I hope that this award will enable Zuleika to worry a little less on paying her tuition costs and excel her forward as an architect,” said Curry. “Today, there are many people who are interested in increasing representation in the architect industry, but more still needs to be done.”

Curry and Stone meet with Baldeo often to offer support and mentorship, which she says is as valuable as the money.

“They’ve offered advice in a lot of different ways in terms of listening to what my goals and dreams are and offering the resources and people to contact in terms of just having more information,” said Baldeo. “They’ve been able to connect people all over.”

Having mentors has made Baldeo want to serve her community, as well. For the past year, she has volunteered as a mentor to sophomore and junior architecture students at Baltimore Design School. “I feel passionate about it, just in terms of bringing more exposure to the field, talking to younger people,” said Baldeo, who took a “nontraditional” path to college, and is older than some of her classmates. “When I was their age, I didn’t have any exposure to the field. I didn’t realize that this could be something I would be passionate about, and I think having that sort of impact is just a beautiful thing to do for somebody.”

Baldeo plans to become a licensed architect and is entertaining pursuits “in construction management and the software portion of architecture.” A dream job, she says, is marrying elements of both. For now, she is living her dream and hopeful other students will experience the support AF donors have offered her.  “I didn’t even know there were people out here giving this sort of money. Opportunities sort of find themselves, I think, in alignment of your path,” said Baldeo. “Unfortunately, money does become this object that controls us in certain ways or prevents us or elongates the journey to be able to get towards what we truly feel passionate about. There are resources and people out there who are willing to help you. It really comes down to holding your dream close to your heart.”

Support AF this holiday season

On November 28 – Giving Tuesday – the Architects Foundation will launch its year-end giving campaign to support students like Zuleika Baldeo. Support architecture students and other worthwhile programs in the design community during the holiday season.