The Meaning of the Name

A Distinct Identity

400 FORWARD was named in light of the 400th living African American woman recently becoming a licensed architect in 2017 (out of over 113,000 total licensed in the US). This new initiative aims to seek out and support the next 400 licensed women architects with an underlying focus on African American girls through exposure, mentorship, and financial assistance.

400 FORWARD’s mission: to uplift girls by giving them the tools they need to address social issues created by the unjust built environments of our inner-city communities. An initiative of the Urban Arts Collective (a nonprofit organization), 400 FORWARD has been launched as a comprehensive program which introduces young girls to architecture, provides scholarships and wrap around services to college students, and pays for study material and licensing exams for African American women in architecture.


400 FORWARD wins Knight Foundation Matching Grant of $50,000

Seeking Sponsors & Partners

In a submission titled "Art & Architecture: Changing our Cities Through Our Youth," UAC Co-Founder Tiffany Brown pitched 400 FORWARD as an idea which was selected as one of the winners for the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation's Knight Arts Challenge. 

The programs, support, and multi-level scholarships to be provided by 400 FORWARD aims to position young women to realize their talents in STEAM, and grow the presence of African American women in the profession of architecture (currently less than .3%) through the incorporation of artistic excellence.

An article about the story behind 400 Forward can be found at


What We Do

Collaborate & Innovate

Women currently represent 19% of the profession, African American women just .3%. The current face of architecture is not an accurate reflection of what our cities look like. Inner city kids are not being exposed to architecture as even being an opportunity for them to strive toward. Out of over 113,000 licensed architects in our country, there are currently about 19,000 who are women, and 442 who are African American women.


Mentorship & Outreach

We provide free art & architectural summer camps and workshops that feature local city-builders, makers, artists, musicians, and dancers, creating presentations and art installations. We provide participation in summer festivals and design summits hosted in Detroit showcasing the work of the youth. We connect girls to mentors in cities across the country. 

Community Development

Through the use of technology to tell stories of discussing the use of the spaces around them, we can connect communities to companies and organizations doing work in their neighborhood. In the words of city-builder Jay Pitter: Urban Development should not be something happening *to* you. We have the power and knowledge to be directly involved. 

Financial Support Services

Financial issues can be a major barrier to the success of a student reaching their full potential. 400 FORWARD has direct access to connecting students to assistance, scholarships and wrap around services, and providing study material and licensing exams for African American women in architecture. The cost of architectural licensing exams is a total of $1,410 alone. 

Join us in making a real difference by sharing What We Do.


Making A Difference

400 FORWARD is in the business of changing and shaping lives. The work we do at our Nonprofit Organization is aimed at providing a holistic approach to solving some of our society’s biggest challenges. We make sure our partners are empowered by creating opportunities for individuals and communities.


400 Forward as special guests: "The Future of Museums, Public Spaces, and Parks"

Sir David Adjaye, one of the leading architects of his generation and a global cultural ambassador, spoke at the Detroit Institute of Arts on the power of architecture to achieve positive social change. Adjaye was joined on stage by the award-winning landscape architect Michael Van Valkenburgh in a conversation with Jamie Bennett, Executive Director at ArtPlace America, New York. 400 FORWARD were invited guests of the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy.

Putt Putt Station at Eastern Market After Dark

The girls of 400 Forward were invited to design and build a putt station for Design Core Detroit's Month of Design. Titled"Many Paths, One Goal," the exhibit showcases Imani Day and Kimberly Dowdell. Dowdell is the 295th African American woman to become licensed of the 442 who exist today.

Detroit's College for Creative Studies donated $1000 toward the cost of the putt putt station, which included turf made entirely from recycled plastic water bottles. 


400 Forward to be featured on PBS Show "Curious About Careers"

In the spring of 2019, 400 Forward's creator will be featured in a segment on the Emmy-award winning kids’ science program  Curious Crew, which airs on WKAR, PBS Kids! The show was filmed in SmithGroup Detroit's office located in the historic Guardian Building in Downtown Detroit. Click the image for more info on the show!


Re-Imagining Justice with an Alternative to a New Jail in Detroit

The Detroit Justice Center & Designing Justice + Designing Spaces hosted a workshop with teens from the Black Youth Project, 400 Forward, and Teen Hype. Students huddled around tables talking about the future of their city and discussed something that normally doesn’t include the perspective of students — jails. Or, more specifically, what Detroit would look like if a restorative justice center was built instead of a new Wayne County Jail.


Architexx Now What! Traveling Exhibition

Now What?! is the first exhibition to examine the little-known history of architects and designers working to further the causes of the civil rights, women’s, and LGBTQ movements of the past fifty years. The exhibition content, conversations, and stories will inspire a new generation of design professionals to see themselves as agents of change by looking at the past to see new ways forward. 400 Forward is proud to be part of this traveling exhibition. Click the image to learn more.

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Would you like to partner on an activity or become a mentor in your city?

News & Views

We work hard to get our efforts noticed by the media and are so proud when this goal comes to fruition. A well informed community is an empowered one as well, so take a look at some of the latest coverage we’ve received below and help spread the word about all the amazing developments at 400 FORWARD. Check out three of many publications featuring 400 FORWARD.

Workers In Progress:     ARCHITECT Magazine

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May 31, 2018

A new generation is propelling the movement toward equity in architecture.

Open To All:                                        Gray Magazine

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September 30, 2018

Gray Magazine talks to three pioneering individuals who are changing both the way we approach design and who can approach it.

New Designers Doing Good: Architectural Record

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November 6, 2018

These Rising-Star Designers Are Making the World a Better Place.


"How can you aspire to be something if you don't know it exists? You can't be what you can't see."

~Michelle Obama

AIA National Conference 2017


Tiffany D. Brown

Born and raised in Detroit, Tiffany has an extensive background in both architecture and construction management and holds two Masters Degrees: M.Arch & an MBA. Tiffany is a pioneer for diversity and inclusion in the profession of architecture and is a sought-after expert frequently speaking at conferences such as Detroit’s UNESCO City of Design Summit, and national events including South by Southwest and the AIA Conference on Architecture. Tiffany has also been called upon to speak at several universities around the country. Most recently, she was featured in AIA+Architect Magazine and Architectural Record for her efforts in equity, diversity, and inclusion.  

Tiffany has spearheaded raising awareness on how representation in design makes a significant social impact on firm practice, culture, and education. Her expertise stems from first-hand experiences of addressing environmental injustices and social issues. Rethinking architecture education for the traditionally underserved plays a large role in her career. Tiffany is a thought leader who uses her personal story of humble beginnings as a tool of empowerment to mentor students.

Tiffany has a 7-year old daughter and works as a Project Manager at SmithGroup’s Detroit office, donating her free time to fulfill her passion of furthering the advancement of girls in inner-city communities.


Partners and Supporters

Valued Partnerships: A List that Continues to Grow

Client 7

Urban Arts Collective

Client 5

National Organization of Minority Architects

Client 4

Cranbrook Academy    of Art

Client 8

John S. & James L. Knight Foundation

Client 2

Lawrence Technological University

Client 1

National Girls Collaborative Project

Client 3

Design Core Detroit

Client 1

Detroit Riverfront Conservancy

Client 6

American Institute of Architects

Client 2

Mismatch Design//   Mismatch Book by Kat Holmes

Client 6


Client 4

Equity by Design [EQxD]


Coming Soon!


400 Forward T-Shirts

Besides representing and showing your support for the mission, your purchase will be going toward a T-Shirt for a 400 Forward Mentee. Email your size and color preference today!

Contact 400 FORWARD

Detroit, MI, USA


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