NEW YORK, NEW YORK–January 23, 2023: Schools That Can, in partnership with Gensler, is leading Gensler Design Scholars programming in two New York high schools, bringing together students and professional architects for real-world learning experiences. In the eight-week program, Gensler Design Scholars, students focus on building safe, inclusive spaces within schools, drawing on their own lived experiences and hands-on, expert support from Gensler architects. Gensler Design Scholars is part of Schools That Can’s Scholars At Work programming, which brings work experiences directly to high school students in order to help them build critical career skills, discover areas of interest, and gain exposure to in-demand career pathways.

Each week, five to seven Gensler architects meet with students at MESA Charter High School and AECI-1, serving roughly fifteen students. Students draft floor plans, and combine photos, sketches, reference images, and notes from their journal entries to create safe and inclusive spaces. The program culminates with students presenting their final designs to their peers and Gensler architects on January 24th, practicing presentation and public speaking skills. Upon completion, students receive a STC Gensler badge that recognizes their accomplishment and skills. 

“Working with students is one of the more rewarding things we get to do as architects,” said Mark Thaler, Principal and Studio Director in Gensler’s New York office. “At Gensler, we’re committed to diversifying the architectural pipeline and introducing kids to a profession that they may have never imagined for themselves. It also helps put in perspective the impact of our design work as we help grow the next generation of designers that will be shaping the human experience.”

“This program is really important because it’s amplifying student voices,” says Anijeh Green, Program Manager for Schools That Can New York. “They are getting an opportunity to talk more about their personal experiences and consider how those experiences can contribute to a safe and inclusive environment for not just themselves, but others as well.”

Gensler’s research initiative found that prioritizing safety and belonging projects familiarity and comfort for young people, and that empathy, consideration, and understanding must be fundamentals of educational design. As the report states, the connection between design and student performance is well-documented, but primarily focuses on white students. Developing a more inclusive understanding of belonging in schools means examining the experiences all  students are having in their physical spaces. That includes bringing students into the process of designing those spaces themselves.

Gensler Design Scholars is unique in bringing leading professionals directly to students, as well as centering the lived experiences of young people as part of a work-based learning initiative. According to Schools That Can student surveys, 80% of young people surveyed rate STC’s career readiness programming as helpful in exploring their career interests.

To learn more about student designs, Scholars At Work, or the Gensler Design Scholars program, please contact:



Schools That Can is a nonprofit that builds an education to employment pathway through career readiness programming that’s culturally relevant, youth-centered, and prioritizes real-world experiences and connections. STC currently provides career readiness programming in four major cities: New York, Newark, Chicago, and Pittsburgh. STC’s Career Readiness programming includes 125 hours of tested curriculum with a unique co-teaching model designed to support teachers and build the capacity of schools. Students engage with professionals in work-based learning experiences in industries including Climate Action, Cybersecurity, Design, and Robotics, skill-building opportunities including mock interviews and resume reviews, and mentorship and externships. In STC’s Scholars At Work program, students have the opportunity to earn college credits and industry-recognized badges. To learn more, please visit:


Gensler is a global architecture, design, and planning firm with 53 locations and more than 7,000 professionals networked across the Americas, Europe, Greater China, Asia Pacific, and the Middle East. Founded in 1965, the firm works globally with more than 4,000 clients across more than 29 practice areas spanning the work, lifestyle, community, and health sectors. We are guided by our mission to create a better world through the power of design, and the source of our strength is our people. By leveraging our diversity of ideas, our research and innovation, our shared values, and our One-Firm Firm culture, we are working seamlessly as a borderless firm in 140 countries and making the greatest impact on our communities as we continue to tackle the world’s challenges.