We leverage design to tackle global challenges—especially those that adversely affect historically underrepresented communities.
Call for Proposals
The deadline to apply is May 3, 2023, at noon.
We will award $15,000 Action Grants, $7,500 Discovery Grants, and $2,500 Exploration Grants, with a total of up to $50,000 available.
Grants include engagement with the Sasaki Foundation and access to design expertise from professionals at Sasaki, a world-renowned design firm.
We Need You
“What usually aids in the intelligent flowering of the design is the success of the collaborative effort of all.”
The call for proposals
The challenges in addressing environmental resilience, displacement, affordable housing, access to mobility choices, meaningful public engagement, and other social equity considerations in planning and design are so broad and complex, they require a shared approach to facilitate all the necessary conversations and deliver actionable solutions. Most of these challenges faced by Massachusetts communities are not limited to local neighborhoods—their effects are felt and shared across the Commonwealth and beyond. Multiple futures are at stake, and we can make a difference by acting now.
The Sasaki Foundation recognizes the need for interdisciplinary approaches, diverse community voices, and regional cooperation as key drivers to find shared solutions and create shared impact.
Creative Community Building
We are seeking themes of collective memory and community storytelling, investment in historic neighborhood fabric, and local business development. Designing and planning for our communities can extend beyond the concept of placemaking to include the idea of placekeeping—the preservation of local identity through strengthening social bonds, celebrating neighborhood history, and developing strategies for enhancing neighborhood retail, food, and health services.
- How do we preserve cultural identity while reinvigorating the social and economic wellbeing of a given community?
- What vision do you have for how storytelling can help facilitate racial reconciliation for neighborhoods that have been damaged by past planning and design decisions?
- How can we build local capacity for economic development and promote local entrepreneurship?
- How can we better leverage technology to give power over design to marginalized voices and what opportunities do we have to create tools for better and more equitable decision making?
New Models for Housing
We are seeking strategies to improve housing affordability, promote a more diverse housing stock, and address gentrification and displacement. Housing shortages in Massachusetts cities require innovative approaches to planning and design. Displacement of families, caused by economic and environmental forces, is exacerbated by the limited supply of affordable, family-oriented housing units.
- What is your innovative idea to provide better access to affordable housing and improve public health for more people?
- How are you strengthening existing networks in your community, as displacement increases?
- What is your radical idea for how cities can respond to increasing numbers of people experiencing homelessness?
Innovation in Transit and Access to Mobility Choices
We are seeking design strategies and solutions for existing challenges to reliable transit, strengthening public-private partnerships in expanding transportation choices and leveraging technology to provide greater access to transportation options by eliminating barriers. In Massachusetts, local mobility networks and regional systems have tremendous potential to improve accessibility and safety for users. Methods for leveraging private-sector innovation to increase transportation access for all communities present a powerful opportunity.
- What actions can improve your community’s mobility choices and transportation access, particularly in communities of color and low-income communities?
- How could better access to technology improve mobility for your community?
- What are your community-led ideas for how to progress accessibility and disability rights in the connectivity networks of your city?
Innovation in Health and Wellbeing
We are seeking efforts to enhance community health through the built environment. Equitable access to outdoor spaces, creative reuse of the public realm, and innovative and inclusive programming are integral to our collective community health. Codesigning innovative solutions to challenges within our built environment can begin to positively affect our physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing in cities across Massachusetts.
- How can your community expand access to open space and the public realm to allow for greater health and wellness?
- How might we positively impact access to health and wellness opportunities?
- What are your innovative solutions to cocreating community spaces that positively affect our physical, emotional, and mental health?
Proactive Approaches to Climate Adaptation
We are seeking responses that address the impacts of climate change, including extreme heat, stormwater and flash flooding, and coastal and river flooding. Challenges associated with climate change, especially related to the urban heat island effect and flooding, disproportionately impact communities of color and low-income communities.
- What is your vision for a collaborative approach to mitigate the impacts of climate change?
- Are you doing something to increase climate resilience in your community that can scale to greater impact?
- What are your ideas for how to empower communities to advocate for environmental justice?
- What are your ideas for how to provide a just transition as communities implement adaptation measures to respond to extreme weather?
Types of projects the foundation will fund
We seek proposals that utilize interdisciplinary thinking to challenge the status quo. We support design ideas that actively engage and contribute to communities. Winning teams will have actionable ideas. Proposals will be judged on both creativity and feasibility, and should address resilience and equity through the lens of one of the topics discussed in Section 04.
We seek proposals that benefit historically underrepresented communities through strategies aimed at eliminating systemic barriers. Winning teams will show how their projects will meet the unique needs of a community through a high level of collaboration with community representatives.
We value diverse perspectives and seek to find inclusive processes that make space for dialogue and difference. We especially encourage proposals from women; transgender, genderqueer, or gender non-conforming individuals; members of racial or ethnic minorities; and individuals with physical and/or intellectual disabilities.
We seek proposals that foster innovation, creativity, and interdisciplinary approaches to design. Special attention will be given to teams that propose forward-thinking, rather than reactive, concepts and ideas.
We seek proposals that can produce positive impacts within the communities they serve. Winning projects will exhibit scalability or replicability across other communities with similar characteristics.
Access to Sasaki Designers
What to Expect
Teams will participate in the following:
Teams will deliver the following:
- Project work plan and projected budget
- Exploration Grants work plan should include research done to explore feasibility and interest in the focus community along with a plan for future programming.
- Discovery and Action Grants work plans should include specific actionable deliverables, including but not limited to research, community engagement, design creation, pilot testing, and installations.
- Mid-grant presentation (optional for Exploration Grants)
- Executive summary of project outcomes, along with photographic documentation and visuals
- Final presentation (optional for Exploration Grants)
- Final report (Discovery and Action Grants only)
Executive summaries and final reports will be available as open source on the Sasaki Foundation website and in the annual research publication.
September 2023 – June 2024
Informational Events & Pitch Night