Newswise — The College of Environmental Design (CED) at UC Berkeley’s Summer Programs launched its crowdfunding campaign for the embARC Summer Design Academy today. The campaign funds will support high school students as young as 15 years old to come to the UC Berkeley campus to explore architecture, sustainable city planning and fabrication techniques for one month during the summer of 2017.

The program is housed in the College of Environmental Design at Wurster Hall. embARC students will work on real design projects in a studio environment, engaging as genuine stakeholders and participants to solve authentic urban planning questions. True to UC Berkeley's public mission, embARC incorporates an overall theme of civic responsibility by partnering with a local community organization on a design-build project that addresses an authentic community improvement. This summer, embARC students will be developing a project for the UC Berkeley Food Pantry, an emergency relief food supply for all UC Berkeley undergraduate and graduate students.

Because the summer program can be cost prohibitive for low-income students, the Summer Programs’ crowdfunding campaign hopes to raise funds for scholarships to introduce the principles and practices of environmental design to students who would otherwise be financially barred from attending the program.

By teaching high school age students that they can manage a construction project, master principles of design and digital fabrication and handle power tools with confidence, embARC allows students from all backgrounds to explore the disciplines of environmental design and ultimately gain new skills and experiences.

In previous summer sessions, the students had the opportunity to work with local non-profit organizations such as Urban Tilth, Spiral Gardens, and the Golden Gate Audubon Society on design-build projects that benefited both the students and these unique nonprofits in the surrounding East Bay communities.

embARC has been wildly successful since its 2012 launch; the 2017 class of students is expected to be twice as large as in previous years. It is important that the program’s alumni represent a diversity of backgrounds, especially those from underrepresented communities, as CED’s Summer Programs fosters more embARC graduates on to degrees and jobs in the field of environmental design.

This year, CED’s Summer Programs hopes to amplify its ability to bring students from the Bay Area's underrepresented communities to the UC Berkeley campus. To do that, they are seeking outside support to double the amount of full-ride scholarships they are able to offer to low-income students. embARC’s crowdfunding campaign will run through the entire month of March and aims to raise $7,410 in total, enough to cover the cost for three low-income students to attend the program. While the Summer Programs’ long-term goal is that every qualified student with an interest in environmental design would be able to attend embARC, regardless of their family's ability to pay, a successful campaign in 2017 will bring the program three students closer to that goal.