we invest in
the most promising drivers of change
Read about our philosophy and approach to our work in our Strategic Plan, see what we’ve accomplished this past year in our 2022 Annual Report, and explore our 2020-2021 Design Grants research.
Research & Experimentation
Large-scale, complex challenges require cross-disciplinary thinking. That’s why the Sasaki Foundation convenes experts and innovators from all backgrounds. The Sasaki Foundation’s research and programs are focused on bringing issues of inequity in design to the forefront. In many cases, this means a focus on helping communities of color and low-income communities, who have historically been removed from the design process.
The Sasaki Foundation champions interdisciplinary approaches, testing new design concepts and projects that address complex issues. The Sasaki Foundation’s Design Grants support and drive innovation within interdisciplinary teams from various sectors, while rooting these ideas in communities. Each year, the Sasaki Foundation announces new research topics that address the current trends in design and address inequities in those areas. Teams apply for cash grants and access to designers at Sasaki. For more information, see our 2022 Grant winners.
Community Learning & Engagement
Informed and engaged residents are the central ingredients of a successful community. The Sasaki Foundation invests in ideas and strategies that engage community members in the design process — and contribute meaningfully to its outcomes. To that end, we work with civic leaders, educators, economists, and technologists to connect design and community-driven action.
The Sasaki Foundation partnered with MIT Solve on their Coastal Communities challenge. The challenge asked the provocative question: how can coastal communities mitigate and adapt to climate change while developing and prospering? Solvers presented their winning solutions, which included mobilizing communities to share microdata about climate impacts to better inform adaptation and infrastructure design, modular and scalable reef restoration to protect coast communities and ecosystems, and more.
Sasaki designers and industry professionals had the opportunity to provide feedback to teams, where feedback played an integral role as solutions were in their early stages of development.
Professional Practice & Growth
A thriving design industry relies on a pipeline of diverse, talented, and passionate practitioners who infuse new ideas and disrupt established patterns. The Sasaki Foundation supports professional organizations and initiatives that prepare such future leaders. The Foundation also advocates for innovative design practice, seeking ways to cross discipline boundaries and amplify impact. Of special interest are programs that advance diversity and inclusivity in the next generation of design professionals.
The Sasaki Foundation runs a six-week paid internship program for students from Greater Boston high schools, called Summer Exploratory Experience in Design (SEED), which is structured holistically around introducing young students to the world of design. The program is an intensive deep-dive into collaborative project work, working alongside Sasaki designers who serve as teachers and mentors to students throughout the program. Students participate in design charrettes, work with computer and VR programs, practice hand-sketching techniques, and more. Our goal is to collectively build a culture of equity in the design field by showing young students alternative career paths to industries they may never have known.