May 23, 2024

Sasaki Foundation Announces 2024 Design Grants Finalists

Sasaki Foundation Announces 2024 Design Grants Pitch Night Finalists

The Sasaki Foundation announced today the finalists for its sixth annual Sasaki Foundation Design Grants program. These seven teams will pitch to a jury of experts on Thursday, June 6, 5:30-7:30 p.m. at a public event sponsored by LeMessurier. 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 2024, 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 spaces for youth, community for refugee families, community land use, inclusive planning processes, infrastructure for immigrants, environmental justice, and gentrification.”

Applicants proposed projects to win cash awards and dedicated time with Sasaki designers. In the program’s sixth year, the Sasaki Foundation received 14 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, 2 Greater Boston cities, 4 Gateway Cities, and multiple proposals focusing on Greater Boston.

“We have a fantastic jury, representing a wide range of life experiences and Boston-area organizations: Design Studio for Social Intervention, Dorchester Bay Economic Development Corporation, International Finance Corporation (IFC), Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation, and Sasaki, who will evaluate the teams on the design, equity, inclusion, innovation, and impact of their ideas,” says Timothy Gale, Jury Chair and Sasaki Foundation Trustee. “We’re excited to hear from these impressive teams that proposed ideas for our 2024 Design Grants. We welcome all to join us at 110 Chauncy on June 6 for Pitch Night!”


The 2024 Design Grant finalists are as follows:


Community, Sustainability, and Robotics: Rooting in and Reimagining Third Spaces for Youth in Revere

Community: Revere

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

Lack of space and visibility in a rapidly gentrifying city is a major obstacle for Revere Youth in Action (RYiA). Revere is a Gateway City with no YMCA, Boys and Girls Club, or other accessible third space for its largely BIPOC, multilingual, immigrant, LGBTQIA+ youth population. RYiA recently acquired programming space in the heart of the city. Having an autonomous, dedicated space expands programming options from a school-year program and summer program to more targeted offerings. RYiA envisions collaborating with The Nutrons, a robotics club, for their sustainability workshop series to build an urban composting system.


Bridging Communities through Shared Landscaped Urban Space

Community: Roxbury

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

With more than 7,500 refugee families having arrived in Massachusetts in 2023, and current stresses resulting from the need for immediate shelter, there is an urgency to create bridges between established and dislocated communities to promote empathy, understanding, healing, and social inclusion. This team proposes creating a social space in Roxbury to support positive human connection and community health through a resilient landscaped environment that integrates child play. They will engage with a local community and newly introduced refugee families in mentoring a diversity of youths through programming and design workshops, to develop a responsive inclusive design solution.


Planning for a Chinatown Library Park

Community: Chinatown

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

With a permanent Chinatown branch of the Boston Public Library planned to break ground this year, Friends of the Chinatown Library, residents, and other community groups share a vision of creating a small park or community garden next to the library. Because the land is privately owned and the landowner, a small community church, is not interested in selling at this time, they are unfolding a gradual and multilayered community campaign to convince key stakeholders and mobilize support. Support from Sasaki designers will help them to involve community members in developing and promoting this vision.


Inclusive Four Corners

Community: Dorchester

Focus Area: Creative Community Building

Most recently, the City of Boston has been promoting an initiative known as Squares and Streets (S&S) that seeks to rezone key neighborhood areas to allow for more housing density and business development. S&S has been negatively received at best, with the loss of community voice in the development process being a concern. This team seeks to explore the details of S&S as a way to better understand the planning process and identify mitigation strategies for potential negative impacts and to create sustainable long-term benefits in return. Their goal is to have this process be inclusive of their neighborhood’s diversity.


Immigrant Community Welcome Center and Affordable Housing Project

Community: Brockton

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

Dedicated to fostering community building, enhancing wellbeing, and addressing housing inequities for immigrants, Immigrant Family Services Institute (IFSI) recently purchased a property in Brockton and plans to create a welcome center alongside housing for newly arrived immigrants. This initiative reflects their commitment to design solutions that serve and uplift underrepresented communities. Their vision is for an inclusive space that not only provides essential services and secure housing but integrates community-led design principles, ensuring the space is reflective of and responsive to the needs of residents it serves. They believe in the power of design to break down barriers and create equitable opportunities.


Gardens For All (Jardines Para Todos)

Community: Mission Hill and Roxbury

Focus Area: Proactive Approaches to Climate Adaptation

Sociedad Latina’s Jardines Para Todos design initiative will be led by 15 high school Youth Leaders who are part of their Environmental and Food Justice Program (EJ). Their EJ youth focus on addressing the impacts of climate change in their Mission Hill and Roxbury community and receive training and career mentorship to become the next generation of leaders in sustainability and environmental STEM. For the Gardens For All design initiative, the youth will create a design guide and workshops for community members that cover different strategies for low-cost gardening setups, accounting for spatial constraints, portability for rental housing, and limited light and irrigation requirements.


The Lot Next Door

Community: Dorchester

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

This community-driven devising process culminates in a new play that will premiere summer 2026. The Lot Next Door explores systems at the neighborhood level in a world-class, 21st-century city steeped in troubled history and complex environmental futures. The play’s central narrative explores a constellation of relationships and events revolving around a city owned lot in Dorchester. The team’s ultimate goal is to use a playmaking process as a tool to heal and build their neighborhood in order to move forward with a vision for the land in question that promotes equity, justice, and future sustainability.


If you would like to attend Pitch Night, sponsored by LeMessurier, on June 6 either in person at 110 Chauncy in downtown Boston or online, please register. We hope to see you there!



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