May 18, 2023

Sasaki Foundation Announces 2023 Design Grants Finalists

Sasaki Foundation Announces 2023 Design Grants Pitch Night Finalists

The Sasaki Foundation announced today the finalists for its fifth annual Sasaki Foundation Design Grants program. These eight teams will pitch to a panel of judges on Thursday, June 1, 5:30-7:30 p.m. at 110 Chauncy, the Sasaki Foundation’s new home in downtown Boston. 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 2023, the Sasaki Foundation focused on Creative Community Building, New Models for Housing, Innovation in Transit and Access to Mobility Choices, Innovation in Health and Wellbeing, and Proactive Approaches to Climate Adaptation, 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 food resilience, spaces for healing, access to childcare, gentrification, environmental justice, community infrastructure, and economic empowerment.”

Applicants proposed projects to win cash awards and dedicated time with Sasaki designers. In the program’s fifth year, the Sasaki Foundation received 19 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 30 organizations and institutions, 5 Boston communities, 4 Greater Boston cities, 1 Gateway City, and multiple proposals focusing on Greater Boston.

“We have a fantastic jury, representing a wide range of life experiences and Boston area organizations: Lyft, Northeastern University, Sasaki, Toole Design Group, 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 Grants at Pitch Night. We welcome all to join us at 110 Chauncy on June 1!”


The 2023 Design Grant finalists are as follows:


Building Food Resilience through Urban Container Gardening from the Comfort of Home

Community: East Boston

Focus Area: Innovation in Health and Wellbeing

The Harborkeepers proposes Building Food Resilience through Urban Container Gardening from the Comfort of Home, addressing food waste and food resiliency challenges in East Boston through a series of educational and problem-solving workshops and activities focused on growing food in limited urban housing spaces, such as people’s homes, terraces, or even inside from their window sills, as a way to address that people in densely populated urban communities may not have access to local community urban gardens or yards to grow their own fresh and healthy produce.

1975: a Healing Memorial

Community: Fields Corner, Dorchester

Focus Area: Creative Community Building

2025 will mark the fiftieth anniversary of the end of the war in Việt Nam and the beginning of a significant Vietnamese diaspora. 1975: a Healing Memorial aims to reclaim narratives often told about the war in Việt Nam and pay homage to the families of the Vietnamese diaspora. The project will result in the installation of a permanent memorial in Boston’s Little Saigon Cultural District as a site of recognition, the celebration of the Vietnamese diaspora, and the offering of a shared space for the healing of traumas from the war and the long journeys away from the homeland.

EarlyEducatorSpace 2.0: Reimagining Public Housing with Childcare in Mind

Community: Boston

Focus Area: Creative Community Building, New Models for Housing, Innovation in Health and Wellbeing

EarlyEducatorSpace 2.0 is a unique opportunity to bring together family childcare providers, families, neighbors, and affordable housing property managers in a way that expands access to childcare, creates opportunities for economic mobility for public housing residents, and enhances affordable housing spaces. In three design sessions, participants will reimagine and codesign common green space in one Boston Housing Authority development as a site inclusive of care for young children.

A Memorial Garden to Remember the Unhoused Community

Community: Cambridge

Focus Area: Creative Community Building

A Memorial Garden to Remember the Unhoused Community is a collaborative process to design and install a memorial garden for people in the On The Rise community — current and formerly unhoused women, trans, and nonbinary people — who have passed away.

Survival Guide to Living and Staying in Roxbury

Community: Roxbury

Focus Area: Creative Community Building

The Survival Guide to Living and Staying in Roxbury is both a storytelling and practical information project on the current and past fights for community land development, how to develop land, and how to apply for rental and homeownership opportunities. Roxbury is a rapidly gentrifying, predominantly Black, working-class community in Boston. The multimodal document will serve as a conversation starter within the community, to help connect people to advocacy resources and share their own stories. The guide will help with creative community building, using art and storytelling to enhance community planning.

Improving Open Space in Chinatown

Community: Chinatown

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

Chinatown Community Land Trust (CLT) seeks to improve and expand open space in Chinatown, Boston’s densest and hottest neighborhood. Chinatown CLT will engage designers in supporting community planning efforts to secure community governance and improvements for Reggie Wong Park, to advocate for a new community-oriented park in Parcel 25 development, and, longer term, to advance the vision for a green space next to the future Chinatown Library. Chinatown CLT is also part of the Chinatown HOPE initiative, which is focused on moving the Phillips Square public space into a second phase community design process.

Movement Training and Cultural Center: Envisioning Hope

Community: Revere and beyond

Focus Area: Creative Community Building

The Ayni Institute is an organization rooted in the working class, immigrant, BIPOC communities and Indigenous wisdom. Boston’s rapid gentrification and the pandemic have displaced the organization and impacted its ability to train leaders in social change. To address this, the Ayni Institute committed to jointly buy a building with Neighbors United for a Better East Boston (NUBE). Recently, the partnership raised funds to purchase a 4,500 square foot building in Revere with the capacity to house trainings and a cultural center, and serve as a regional movement hub, providing inclusive and strategic meeting space for movement leaders.

The Roxbury DIF: Centering Community Voice through the Lens of Arts and Culture

Community: Roxbury

Focus Area: Creative Community Building

The Roxbury DIF (district increment financing) project focuses on a neighborhood that has borne the brunt of longstanding strategic disinvestment. Roxbury is currently seen as an important part of the city’s rapid growth plan. Located in the geographic center of Boston, Roxbury plays a critical role in all aspects of the city. With the most buildable lots, Roxbury has become the stage for a rapidly shifting landscape. Establishing the Roxbury DIF will provide key stakeholders with a mechanism to channel city funds back into the district and will put decision making power in the hands of residents.


If you would like to attend Pitch Night on June 1, please register. We hope to see you there!


Stay updated with the latest stories, news, and events.