Community Engaged Design

Frequently, cities and developers fail to engage the community in design efforts that integrate local priorities, values and concerns. That’s why Surdna supports the field of “community engaged design”—where community members contribute to decisions, policies and projects that impact their lives   We believe that artists, architects, and designers can play an important role in translating community values into design solutions that will benefit  the communities where they live and work.

Thriving Cultures seeks to share and replicate the best practices of community engaged design. We seek efforts where artists, designers and architects engage community members in decisions that will result in community benefit and social impact. We acknowledge that design and development is not neutral and that collaborative community design involves innovative partnerships that provide under represented communities with the design assistance they need to maximize their own benefit from development dollars being spent in their communities.

The Thriving Cultures Program supports ways to share and replicate the best practices of community engaged design. We support efforts where artists, designers and architects engage community members in decisions relating to product design, land use, public space, civic infrastructure, and urban planning.

What we fund:

We seek funding opportunities that:

  • Engage the community in design decisions relating to product design, land use, public space, civic infrastructure, and/or urban planning;
  • Weave arts and culture into community engagement processes in order to spark the imagination of residents and create design solutions that reflect their concerns and values;
  • Develop design projects that align with broader community goals and that model an equitable approach;
  • Promote best practices and establish frameworks on how to successfully use the community-engagement process to impact design and implementation to the benefit of the local community.

We give preference to organizations that:

  • Embrace artistic and design excellence;
  • Find innovative ways to use design, arts and culture to make communities more just and sustainable;
  • Prioritize the needs of low-income communities and people of color in their work;
  • Maintain sound financial practices and management;
  • Demonstrate a capacity and willingness to share best practices and knowledge with their colleagues and others in the field;
  • Draw on the expertise of  multiple sectors (i.e. public, private);
  • Receive financial support from diverse sources.

We do not fund:

  • Housing development projects;
  • Capital expenses and capital campaigns;
  • International projects.

How to apply:

If you are interested in applying for a Surdna Foundation grant, please submit a letter of inquiry by clicking here. Please note: We can only support organizations that meet our guidelines listed under "What we fund."

Program Related Investments

Surdna's Program Related Investment Fund supports the foundation’s mission by providing investment capital to fund innovations that use market-based approaches to address economic, cultural, and environmental challenges.

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