JCPenney is committed to identifying and developing talent from diverse institutions. In 2021, as part of our ongoing efforts to advance inclusion and diversity, we created the Young, Gifted & Black (YGB) Design Challenge to support and celebrate the work of college students at historically black colleges and universities (HBCU).

Last Year’s Winner

Last year, Kah’Milah Ledgester, a student from Florida A&M, was the winner of our inaugural YGB Design Challenge winner. Her entry, entitled ‘Just Breathe,’ won with a captivating design that captured our ‘Health and Wellness’ theme. The results were showcased throughout JCPenney locations nationwide in honor of Black History Month in early 2022 and featured on a T-shirt that was sold in our stores (pictured below).


Our next winner could be YOU! This challenge is designed to give HBCU students a platform to showcase their creativity, celebrate their work in service of a worthy cause, and receive dedicated mentorship as they pursue their goals.


The Challenge Theme

Our theme for this year’s YGB Design Challenge is ‘Unity’. As we continue to grapple with complex societal issues, building bridges within the Black community and beyond is critical. Establishing trust and cultivating authentic allyship underpins our ability to find common ground and ultimately achieve progress.

Successful designs will embody this aspiration – a positive outlook, rooted in joy and harmony, for the future that will help chart a path forward towards Unity.

Submission Details and Criteria

To be eligible, participants must be a student enrolled in an HBCU college at the date of submission.

Designs must be prepared in the form of storyboards that include the following:

  • Inspiration
  • Color palette
  • Technical sketches (CAD or Hand Illustrated)
  • Identify the fabric being used
  • Print ideas/Artwork/Technique
  • All storyboards must be saved as a flattened PDF file
  • No less than 150 dpi resolution
  • Files size should be no more than 15 MB
  • NOTE: This year’s design will be for a t-shirt and the fabric will be jersey knit.

You can view a storyboard sample HERE.

All entries must be submitted to by June 10, 2022, along with this signed waiver.

Evaluation Process

The JCP Design Council will serve as the panel of judges and will determine the winner. Finalists will be evaluated on creativity, innovation, ability to execute, resonance with the target market, and relevance to this year’s challenge theme.


Winners will be notified by June 19, 2022. They will be asked to submit a short video describing their academic and creative pursuits in fashion to help future campaigns that we develop for the YBG Design Challenge.

*The winning design may potentially be included in JCP’s Black History and/or Juneteenth assortment.


  • First place: $5,000 and 12 mentoring sessions
  • Second place: $2,500 and 12 mentoring sessions


What is this challenge for?
This challenge is an opportunity to give an HBCU student the unique chance to have his/her work prominently shared across JCPenney stores and platforms, as well as earn a cash prize and participate in mentoring sessions with our experts.

Who can participate?
Entrants must be 18 years of age or older and enrolled in an HBCU at the time of submission. Employees and the immediate families of JCPenney, their parent companies, subsidiaries, representatives, and advertising/promotion agencies are not eligible and prohibited from entering. Team entries are prohibited from entering. The contest permits individual entries only.

Where do I submit?
Final submissions should be emailed to by June 10, 2022.

What is the acceptable submission format?

  • All storyboards must be saved as a flattened PDF file
  • No less than 150 dpi resolution
  • Files size should be no more than 15 MB

Can we use the JCPenney logo?
No, all design submission must be unique and may not include any proprietary images.

Do I own the designs I submit?
No, all designs are owned by JCPenney once submitted.

What do the mentor sessions include?
The winner will be eligible for 12 mentoring sessions that cover topics such as Intro to Retail, Fashion Design, Brand Building, and more. These sessions, which will occur two to three times per month, will be taught and led by JCPenney’s Creative Coalition Panel. The panel represents JCPenney’s Senior Designers, Product Development Directors, and Textile/Graphic Designers.