June 20, 2024

Sasaki Foundation Announces Design Grants Winners

Sasaki Foundation Announces 2024 Design Grants Winners

The Sasaki Foundation announced today the winning teams for its 2024 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 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 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 environmental justice, inclusive planning processes, and community land use.”

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.

The Sasaki Foundation Design Grants jury selected seven teams to advance to Pitch Night, which took place on June 6 at 110 Chauncy, the Sasaki Foundation’s  home in Downtown Boston. Each team had the opportunity to pitch their ideas in front of 90+ 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 three teams to receive the 2024 Design Grants. All finalist teams receive a $500 speaker stipend for their participation at Pitch Night.

“We had 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 evaluated 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 welcome our 2024 Design Grants teams and support them as they work on projects that will empower communities within Massachusetts.”

The names of the 2024 Design Grants winners are as follows:

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.

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. This team from Four Corners Main Streets 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.

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.

For more information, visit the 2024 Winners page.

Thank you to our 2024 jurors for all of your time and effort supporting the Design Grants program this year: Timothy Gale, Jury Chair, of Sasaki, Susan Chu of Dorchester Bay Economic Development Corporation, Mai Nguyen of International Finance Corporation (IFC), Melissa Q. Teng of Design Studio for Social Intervention, and Giovanny Valencia of Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation.