JCPenney is proud to announce the third annual Young, Gifted, and Black (YGB) Design Challenge. The YGB Challenge is designed to give full-time undergraduate students enrolled at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) an opportunity to showcase their creativity across our stores and online platforms, earn a cash prize, and receive dedicated mentorship as they pursue their undergraduate and post-graduate goals.

Read below to learn about this year’s challenge theme, requirements, deadlines and more.

2023 Challenge Theme

Our theme for this year’s YGB Design Challenge is Black Legacy. Black Legacy is the celebration and recognition of Black culture dedicated to the education, awareness and commemoration of Black heritage and people. As we honor our legacy and commemorate our heritage, we look within ourselves to ask the question, “What does Black legacy mean to me and how does it live within me?”

Starting with the phrase “My Black is,” challenge participants should use one word and accompanying graphics to describe your own Black cultural experience. The placed graphic or illustration should pay homage to the legacy that influences you or the legacy you hope to leave. Your design should be an expression of your Black heritage. Your solution to this year’s challenge can be overt, subtle, abstract or literal but it must be a wearable interpretation.

Submission Details and Criteria

To be eligible, participants must be full-time undergraduate students enrolled in an HBCU at the date of submission.

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

  • Inspiration
  • Color palette
  • Technical sketches (CAD or Hand Illustrated)
  • A combination of imagery and text to demonstrate the mood
  • Print ideas/Artwork/Technique

All storyboards must be saved as a flattened PDF file no more than 15 MB in size and no less than 150 dpi resolution. We are unable to accept ZIP files. Please note, this year’s design will be for a t-shirt and the fabric will be jersey knit. You can review this storyboard sample for reference.

Entries must be submitted to by 11:59 PM CST on April 23 along with a signed consent waiver and release form.

Evaluation Process, Selection and Notification

The JCPenney Design Council, made up of senior leaders in our design, textiles, talent, inclusion and diversity departments, will serve as the panel of judges and will decide the winners. Finalists will be notified by May 14 and will be evaluated on creativity, innovation, ability to execute, resonance with the target market and relevance to this year’s challenge theme.

From the pool of finalists, first and second place winners will be notified by May 24.

YGB Design Challenge Prizes

Two (2) YGB Design Challenge winners will be announced.

First Place Prize Winner

  • $4,000 scholarship
  • All-expense paid two-day visit at our home office in Frisco, Texas to shadow members of the JCPenney design team
  • Seven (7) 30-minute virtual mentoring sessions
  • The possibility for design to be included in JCPenney’s 2024 Black History Month and/or Juneteenth collections

Second Place Prize Winner

  • $2,000 scholarship
  • Seven (7) 30-minute virtual mentoring sessions



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.

Full-time undergraduate students currently enrolled in Historically Black Colleges and Universities that are at least 18 years old. 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.

No, all design submission must be unique and may not include any proprietary JCPenney logo variations or images.

Once submitted, JCPenney owns rights to all designs. This includes designs that are not announced as finalists or winning submissions. Please thoroughly review the contest rules outlined in the consent waiver and release form for clarification.

The mentoring sessions are a chance for first and second place winners to connect with JCPenney leaders who will provide personal and professional insights in the topics of brand building, fashion design, retail business and more. These sessions are designed to be flexible and fit the busy schedules of collegiate students.

A Finalist is an applicant that has made it through the first round of judging. Finalists will be contacted by our YGB Design Challenge Team as we narrow down applicants to choose winners. Winners are applicants who have made it through the finalist phase, will receive first and second place prizes, and whose work will be considered for inclusion in the Black History Month and/or Juneteenth collections.

Read more about our past YGB Design Challenges and winners online. Click here for information from 2021, and here for information from 2022.

If you have additional questions after reviewing the challenge home page and FAQs, email us at