The Toy Foundation Pilots Collegiate Case Study to Build Excitement About Toy Industry Careers

University of Maryland Serves as Partner for the Foundation’s DEI Pipeline Program

toy-foundation-logoFebruary 27, 2023 | The Toy Foundation (TTF) engaged the next generation of potential toy industry leaders through a pilot case study program presented to business students at the University of Maryland (UMD). In addition to building a pipeline of diverse, young talent for the industry, the program generated fresh ideas for product development and provided engagement opportunities to support TTF’s diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) goals on behalf of the toy industry.

The case study asked more than 70 students to think critically about the intersectional impact of philanthropy, corporate social responsibility, and DEI within the toy industry. After being presented with the case, the students met throughout the fall/winter 2022 semester in groups; worked closely with their professor, Jeff Miller; and received additional support from the TTF team and subject matter experts at Target and Paramount before presenting their research to TTF and The Toy Association. The goal was for the students to learn more about the many facets of the toy industry, consider a career path in the industry, and create new connections to lead to internship or other job opportunities. A second grouping of UMD students are responding to the same case study to present at the end of the spring 2023 semester.

TTF is working with its DEI Committee and leadership partners to continue scaling the program. This includes opening the case study to strategically selected colleges and universities across the country; offering educational content tailored to students attending Toy Fair™; creating mentorship opportunities for students and industry experts at every career level; and placing students in internship and first-hire positions.

“DEI has become integral to our industry. We’re eager to expand our programming to reach students of all backgrounds and get them excited about the career opportunities available in the toy industry,” said Pamela Mastrota, executive director for The Toy Foundation. “During our pilot case study at UMD, the students impressed us with their diversity of thought and creativity. We hope their work, and the work of future students, serves as a steppingstone to joining and growing our industry.”

If you or your organization is interested in TTF’s DEI Program or engaging with the students in the development of their research, please contact TTF’s John Fistolera.

A presentation delivered by one team of UMD students from the pilot program focused on children and families affected by autism. Their idea, “The Emotion Toy,” is a mashup of a robot and fidget spinner that express and teaches various emotions. Their research showed the prevalence of autism and beneficial impacts of sensory toys, particularly for autistic children who are in high-stress environments and may need help processing feelings of fear and anxiety. The toy would be marketed to public schools and children’s hospitals located within communities of the greatest need, and partnerships with autism-focused NGOs and nonprofits would help place the toys into the hands of autistic children in need. Click the image below to watch the presentation in full.


“We know toys offer great emotional and educational benefits for both children and adults,” continued Mastrota. “Ideas like this from the next generation of talent helps our industry evolve with DEI at the center and helps the Foundation fulfill its vision of a world where every child experiences the benefits of play.”

To learn more about The Toy Foundation, visit