June 21, 2023

Sasaki Foundation Announces Design Grants Winners

Sasaki Foundation Announces 2023 Design Grants Winners

The Sasaki Foundation announced today the winning teams for its 2023 Sasaki Foundation Design Grants. The Design Grants are an annual competition to showcase projects that promote equity and empower local communities in Greater Boston and the Gateway Cities.

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 impressed by the response we received from applicants, our partners, and communities,” says Jennifer Lawrence, Executive Director. “The Sasaki Foundation is excited to fund innovative projects focused on bringing new, local solutions to global challenges affecting our communities, including food resilience, access to childcare, environmental justice, community infrastructure, and gentrification.”

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, and 1 Gateway City, with multiple proposals focusing on Greater Boston.

The Sasaki Foundation Design Grants jury selected eight teams to advance to Pitch Night, which took place on June 1 at 110 Chauncy, the Sasaki Foundation’s new home in Downtown Boston. Each team had the opportunity to pitch their ideas in front of nearly 100 designers, planners, artists, community leaders, civic leaders, and entrepreneurs. (Watch the recording of the event on YouTube.)

Following Pitch Night, the jury, along with the Sasaki Foundation board of trustees, selected five teams to receive the 2023 Design Grants. All finalist teams received a $500 speaker stipend for their participation at Pitch Night, and the finalist teams not selected for a grant will each receive a $1,000 one-time charitable contribution.

“We had a fantastic jury, representing a wide range of life experiences, related content area expertise, and Boston area organizations: Lyft Bikes and Scooters, Northeastern University, Sasaki, Toole Design Group, Tufts University, and municipal government, who evaluated 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 welcome these new teams tackling projects that will empower communities within Massachusetts. We also look forward to exploring new ways to support our Design Grants cohort as we continue to improve and expand the Design Grants program.”

The names of the 2023 Design Grants winners are as follows:

EarlyEducatorSpace 2.0: Reimagining Public Housing with Childcare in Mind
Action Grant
Focus Area: Creative Community Building, New Models for Housing, Innovation in Health and Wellbeing

EarlyEducatorSpace 2.0 from the Boston Housing Authority (BHA) 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 BHA development as a site inclusive of care for young children.

Survival Guide to Living and Staying in Roxbury
Action Grant
Focus Area: Creative Community Building

The Survival Guide to Living and Staying in Roxbury from Reclaim 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.

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

Improving Open Space in Chinatown
Discovery Grant
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
Discovery Grant
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.

For more information, visit the 2023 Winners page.

Thank you to our 2023 jurors for all of your time and effort supporting the Design Grants program this year: Elaine Minjy Limmer (jury chair) of the City and County of Denver, Timothy Gale of Sasaki, Wendell Joseph of Toole Design Group, Penn Loh of Tufts University, Lily Song of Northeastern University, and Dominick Tribone of Lyft and Bluebikes.


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