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A&F cleans up its image with anti-bullying campaign

NEW ALBANY, Ohio — In an effort to clean up its image following CEO Mike Jeffries' controversial comments regarding the type of people he would prefer to see donning his clothing, Abercrombie & Fitch is launching an anti-bullying campaign and college scholarship program.

“We’ve listened to the conversations and heard the message and, as a company, look forward to increasing our commitment to anti-bullying efforts,” said Jeffries. “We are fully committed to fostering a culture of diversity and inclusion — one in which no young person should ever feel intimidated, especially at school, whether for the clothes they wear, or because someone perceives them as different.”

Abercrombie & Fitch will offer college scholarships to students who academically persevered while experiencing bullying, as well as those who have led the fight against bullying in their schools and communities. The scholarships will be administered by the National Society of High School Scholars Foundation, which is based in Atlanta, Ga. The NSHSS has members in more than 160 countries.

“We are proud to offer college tuition assistance to individuals who have been victims of bullying, yet have found ways to achieve academic success, as well as those who have advanced the anti-bullying cause,” said Todd Corley, Abercrombie & Fitch SVP of diversity and inclusion.

These renewable scholarships will be available to high school graduates beginning with the class of 2014. To help select the scholarship recipients, A&F is assembling an advisory committee, which will include 17 year-old activist Cali Linstrom, who led a protest against the retailer and then met face-to-face with Jeffries to discuss comments he made seven years ago. Also on the committee will be Dr. Joel Haber, an expert on anti-bullying and cyber-bullying, who was an adviser to the 2012 documentary film “Bully.”

Additionally, with support from Abercrombie & Fitch, Linstrom will lead a series of conferences this fall in high schools across the country that will help educate students on the effects of bullying and how to prevent it.

“I'm proud to partner with Abercrombie & Fitch in launching a nationwide anti-bullying campaign. As a teenager in high school, I witness forms of bullying every day and see how damaging the matter really is. I'm elated to help develop a program with a company dedicated to doing something this progressive. I believe the results of this program will be incredibly empowering to a vast number of young people,” said Linstrom.

Concurrently, Dr. Haber will provide ongoing consulting to Abercrombie & Fitch executives to identify issues adversely affecting the lives of young people.