May 16, 2022

Sasaki Foundation Announces 2022 Design Grants Finalists

Sasaki Foundation Announces 2022 Design Grants Pitch Night Finalists

The Sasaki Foundation announced today the finalists for its fourth annual Sasaki Foundation Design Grants program. These seven teams will pitch to a panel of judges on Wednesday, May 25, 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the new Lamplighter CX location. The Design Grants are an annual competition to showcase projects that support and drive interdisciplinary innovation and empower our local communities.

Each year, the Sasaki Foundation announces research topics that address current trends and inequities in design. In 2022, the Sasaki Foundation focused on Proactive Approaches to Climate Adaptation, New Models for Housing, Innovation in Transit and Access to Mobility Choices, Creative Community Building, and Innovation in Health and Wellbeing, under the theme of Shared Voices: Charting a Course for Community Action. This theme recognizes that multiple futures are at stake, and we can make a difference by acting now.

“We were thrilled with the response to this year’s call for proposals,” says Jennifer Lawrence, Executive Director. “The Sasaki Foundation is excited to consider proposals that address some of the most challenging issues facing local communities, including social equity, youth empowerment, care infrastructure, environmental justice and resilience, clean energy, food justice, affordable housing, and green infrastructure.”

Applicants proposed projects to win cash awards and dedicated time with Sasaki designers. In the program’s fourth year, the Foundation received 20 applications from multi-member teams competing for the opportunity to take advantage of this unique relationship with Sasaki, a global design firm. The projects represented 52 organizations and institutions, 9 Boston communities, 3 Greater Boston cities, and 5 Gateway Cities.

“We have a fantastic jury, representing a wide range of life experiences and Boston area organizations: Boston Harbor Now, the Boston Housing Authority, Groundwork USA, Powerful Pathways, and Tufts University, who will evaluate the teams on the design, equity, inclusion, innovation, and impact of their ideas,” says Elaine Limmer, Jury Chair and Vice-chair of the Sasaki Foundation’s Board of Trustees. “We’re excited to hear from the incredible teams that proposed ideas for this year’s Design Grant at Pitch Night. We welcome all to join us at Cambridge Crossing on May 25!”


The 2022 Design Grant finalists are as follows:

DIY Lowell Inclusionary Urbanism

Community: Lowell

Focus Area: Creative Community Building

DIY Lowell supports every community member’s right to the city, and our goal is to fulfill that mission through programming and strategies that are grounded in concrete steps with measurable objectives. Community members submit tactical urbanism ideas, and we hold a vote and help volunteer project teams make those ideas happen. We also use design thinking exercises to guide young people through ideation and implementation of community projects. This proposal is to develop a special Inclusion Program to reach immigrants and non-English speakers to make the group more reflective of the community as a whole.

Youth-led Design: New Methodologies for Shaping the Built Environment

Community: Lowell, Greater Boston youth

Focus Area: Creative Community Building

Young people are an integral part of our communities, and yet too often they are excluded from the conversations and decision-making processes that shape our built environment. Youth-led Design asks, what would our towns, neighborhoods, and cities look like if they were truly fueled by the talent, passion, and vision of the younger members of our community? Rather than youth-centered projects, or projects that merely engage the youth, we propose to develop a new model where the youth drive and take ownership of the entirety of the architectural and planning process, from concept through completion.

See You in the Future

Community: Mass. and Cass

Focus Area: Creative Community Building

Through community storytelling, public art, and place-based interventions, See You in the Future supports the care infrastructure around the intersection of Mass. and Cass. In collaboration with community members, we will share honest stories about the myriad of journeys that bring folks here. In gathering different groups in creative conversation, we will both nurture and tend to the caring future that is already rooted but often unseen. In our site-specific co-creative process, we will ask how this area’s public spaces can affirm the inherent worth of unhoused and recovery communities and work to repair histories of disinvestment and policing.

Sharing Community Tree Stories: The Power of Trees in Building Healthy Environments

Community: East Boston, Dorchester, Mattapan

Focus Area: Proactive Approaches to Climate Adaptation, Creative Community Building

This project will assist Speak for the Trees and three community partners–in East Boston, Dorchester, and Mattapan–in the development of a platform (or platforms) to share residents’ stories about trees in their lives. Ideally, this platform will incorporate various forms of media already available or currently in production at Speak for the Trees. These platforms will assist the organization in further capturing, sharing, and amplifying stories and walks being developed through a current EPA-supported project, Community Tree Stories: Exploring Healthy Environments in Three Boston EJ Neighborhoods.

Chinatown Energy Literacy Campaign

Community: Chinatown

Focus Area: Proactive Approaches to Climate Adaptation

The project proposed by Climable, the Chinatown Community Land Trust, and Chinatown Power, Inc., will create a multi-lingual clean energy literacy campaign that is tailored to Boston’s Chinatown neighborhood and that complements ongoing work on a community-owned, clean energy microgrid. The project will also support the audio collection of community input on the topics of resilience, climate change, and a just transition to clean energy. The input gleaned will be made publicly-available via an interactive webpage that allows visitors to listen to interviews while exploring a map of Chinatown.

Groundwork Somerville’s New Urban Farm

Community: Somerville

Focus Area: Proactive Approaches to Climate Adaptation, Creative Community Building, Innovation in Health and Wellbeing

Groundwork Somerville is proud to submit this proposal for a Design Grant from the Sasaki Foundation for the next critical phase of our strategic plan: a new farm, office, greenhouse, and marketspace for Groundwork Somerville. There are two viable options for our new space: one is above a city stormwater reservation tank and the other a vacant lot with an abandoned supermarket space. This project will be designed to provide a gathering space for the community to engage with the local food system, produce culturally relevant crops, and empower youth to become agents of social change.

Combating Green Gentrification: Exploring Green Roofs on Affordable Housing

Community: Chelsea

Focus Area: Proactive Approaches to Climate Adaptation, New Models for Housing, Creative Community Building, Innovation in Health and Wellbeing

Comunidades Enraizadas is a community land trust created by a group of primarily Latina immigrants in Chelsea, MA, supported by GreenRoots, a community-based organization dedicated to engaging and empowering residents to fight for environmental justice and public health. GreenRoots and Comunidades Enraizadas are committed to building community land sovereignty in the face of gentrification. As Comunidades Enraizadas works to acquire and build new properties that will remain affordable housing, we are exploring opportunities to build green roofs on affordable housing units to reduce urban heat island effects and improve access to green space in our low-income, Latinx environmental justice community.


If you would like to attend Pitch Night on May 25, please register. We hope to see you there!


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