The Darby Project $5,000 Scholarship for LGBTQIA+ Cosmetology Students

The Darby Project: LGBTQIA+ Cosmetology Student Scholarship was created as a GoFundMe effort in February 2022 to honor and celebrate the life of Darby Backes. On behalf of Brian Backes, Diane Backes, Elizabeth Leary and WhiteRoom, we celebrate his legacy by establishing a scholarship in his name that is open to anyone who is identifies as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community and is accepted or currently enrolled in a cosmetology program. #thedarbyprojectLGBTQ

Professional Development

One on One Mentorship Opportunity with Elisabeth Leary, mentor, owner, and colorist at WhiteRoom NYC. @whiteroombrooklyn

Award Amount | # of Recipients

Fall – Two (2) $5,000 Scholarships for Cosmetology Students

Scholarships will be awarded during the Fall 2022 season open from September 1- November 30, 2022.

Applicant Qualifications

The Darby Project: LGBTQIA+ Cosmetology Student Scholarship requires the following qualifications to be eligible:

  • The applicant must be eighteen (18) years of age or older by the start date of the program at the accredited school/institution.
  • This scholarship is open to new or currently enrolled students in a cosmetology program that leads to licensure at an accredited school/institution in the United States.
  • The applicant must identify as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community.

Application Requirements

  1. Complete online application and submit proof of enrollment / acceptance in a cosmetology program an accredited school/institution. You must upload either an enrollment document, official acceptance letter, or progress report from an accredited school
  2. Submit a 3-minute maximum. YouTube video with a public link answering the following questions:
  • Why are you choosing to be a cosmetologist and what makes this career path your passion?
  • Darby was passionate about the LGBTQIA+ community and donating his time and craft to giving back. What do you do to support the community and give back?
  • Darby had a radiant personality and was passionate about bringing out the beauty in every client. Describe why choosing a career in cosmetology will showcase your personality and how it fuels your passion?

Applications accepted September  1 – November 30, 2022.

About The Darby Project

Darby Joseph Backes passed away in his sleep on January 5th, 2022, after a short unknown illness. Loved deeply and mourned by many in Minneapolis, New York City, Los Angeles and beyond, his passing at the unimaginable age of 30 invites us to celebrate and reflect on the life of a loving son, fierce friend, and trusted hairstylist.

Darby’s professional career began after graduating from the Aveda Beauty School of Minneapolis in 2013. Darby took his talents to New York City, with two suitcases, a few hundred dollars, and a one-month sublet. He went door-to-door handing out resumes and quickly found work at Mizu salon on Park

Avenue, marking the start of his illustrious 8-year career in hair in NYC. In 2017, he moved his career to Brooklyn, where he would eventually rise to the rank of senior stylist at WhiteRoom.

In addition to building an impressive, celebrity-studded client roster at WhiteRoom, he also taught classes on haircutting, gave free and discounted haircuts to the LGBTQ community, and donated his tips once a year to Transgender affirming surgery funds. As a gay man in New York, Darby was passionate about the queer community and was an active member of many party scenes and social groups.

Darby was passionate about making people feel beautiful and loved to help his clients express their identities and perspectives through cut, color, style, and texture. A stickler for technique, he strived for perfection in his craft and truly treated it as an art form. As a highly social person, he thrived when he was able to maintain genuine connections with his clients and kept hundreds of them coming back again and again.

He left this world having accomplished his dreams and was ready to tackle a set of new ones surrounded by the people who loved him most. Darby leaves behind his parents, his brother Nick, his dog Dagger, and a whole host of friends and clients whose lives were touched and changed by him, grateful we had a chance to bask in his magic.

I like to explore peoples’ perspectives to see how they can express themselves in subtle and explosive ways through their style, cut, and color. – Darby Backes

Hanna W.

Michael Johnson-Wright