In 2020, the Sasaki Foundation celebrated our 20th anniversary. While the year brought many unexpected challenges, the COVID-19 pandemic and the summer of racial reckoning highlighted the importance of our work in harnessing the power of design thinking to promote equity and empower local communities. Thanks to generous donors, thoughtful partners, and engaged research teams, we were able to adapt, deliver on our mission, and celebrate impact in the communities we serve.
Leading with research and experimentation, the Sasaki Foundation saw our second research cohort accomplish their projects, despite the pandemic requiring a shift to virtual community outreach and remote work. We published their results, and selected our third research cohort. This cohort began work remotely, leveraging Sasaki’s design expertise through virtual channels.
Through the lens of community learning and engagement, the Sasaki Foundation hosted virtual events that fostered deep and meaningful conversations on activation of the public realm, climate resilience, redlining and affordable housing policies, mobility through the lens of equity, and more. We also celebrated our 20th anniversary with a conversation between Dr. Karilyn Crockett, Chief of Equity for the City of Boston, and Mary Anne Ocampo, Sasaki Foundation board chair and principal at Sasaki, who discussed important issues on city making, civic dialogue and engagement, and building a more equitable Boston.
With an eye towards professional practice and growth, we once again partnered with American Student Assistance to continue our youth programming. In light of the pandemic, we were able to adapt to virtual platforms. This allowed us to translate our high school internship into an online curriculum, free and available to all students interested in exploring a career in design.
Of particular significance was the Mobility Innovator, a year-long research initiative to address mobility challenges in the Boston region through the lenses of resiliency and equity. The project, funded by the Barr Foundation and in partnership with Sasaki, utilized community engagement to explore the challenges of mobility access in the Gateway Cities of Lynn and Malden, partnered with City Form Lab at MIT in a research studio that culminated in a report on commuter rail access, and in 2021 will sponsor two MIT events focused on mobility. These events will connect local low-income communities, communities of color, MIT researchers, and other key stakeholders.
These highlights of the past year are outlined in the following report, and new initiatives are underway. Please consider getting involved with the Sasaki Foundation—as a research team, as a program partner, or as a donor—and help support this important work of providing access to design for communities that need it the most.