The Toy Foundation™ Successfully Completes DEI-Focused Pilot Collegiate Case Study with University of Maryland

toy-foundation-dei-program-university-of-marylandJune 6, 2023 | A culturally and religiously diverse line of dolls, gamified learning platform, multicultural playing card box set, and communicative anxiety bracelets are a few examples of the ten inventive ideas students from the University of Maryland (UMD) researched and developed for The Toy Foundation™’s (TTF) yearlong pilot collegiate case study program. Part of TTF’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Pipeline Program, TTF partnered with UMD for the 2022-2023 school year to successfully engage young, diverse students to grow their awareness around the career opportunities within the toy industry and create recruitment opportunities for participating companies.

More than 100 students, who spanned a variety of majors, participated in the fall or spring semester case study programs where they examined the intersectional impact of philanthropy, corporate social responsibility, and DEI within the toy industry. Five student groups from each semester had the opportunity to meet with subject matter experts, including Mattel, Paramount, Target, Thames & Kosmos, The Walt Disney Company, and Women in Toys, Licensing & Entertainment, as they refined their case solutions. The goal of the program was for the students to learn about all sectors of the toy industry and seriously consider it as a potential career path. For participating toy companies, it was an opportunity for industry professionals to mentor the next generation of talent and potentially place the students in internship and first-hire positions.

"Participating in this case study ignited my passion for pursuing a career in the toy industry,” shared one UMD student Maryam. “As a child, I never saw myself reflected in dolls and this opportunity has inspired me to bring more diversity into the toys we see on shelf to have a profound impact on future generations."

At the end of each semester, the final case solutions were presented to a panel of industry experts and staff members from TTF and The Toy Association™ who evaluated each idea on achievability, relevance to the industry’s DEI challenges, understanding of the target audience, level of social impact, and presentation quality. In a narrow lead, the spring semester winning presentation was “Party Around the World,” a playing card box set that features traditional card games from around the world to offer opportunities to learn about those cultures through play, as well as enjoy a game that can transcend generations.

“Our original idea was an online game, and our industry mentors encouraged us to move away from technology and focus on tangible games, which caused our shift to traditional decks of playing cards,” said UMD student Ishan, who was in the “Party Around the World” group. “Through this change I realized how important card games can be to understanding your own or someone else’s culture. It has opened my eyes to all the ways play can impact someone’s life that I’m definitely more interested in joining the toy industry.”

Click the image below to watch the “Party Around the World” presentation.

The fall semester winning presentation, The Emotion Toy, was announced in February. Watch the group’s presentation here.

TTF’s DEI Pipeline Program works to support the toy industry in building a pipeline of diverse talent who will serve as the next generation of industry leaders, and, in turn, create a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive industry in all that is does and everyone it serves. For toy companies of all sizes and capacities, the program offers opportunities to mentor students, present your own DEI initiatives, recruit for intern and first-hire positions, and more. If you or your organization is interested in TTF’s DEI Pipeline Program, please contact TTF’s John Fistolera.

To learn more about The Toy Foundation, visit