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Posts Tagged ‘Surdna Foundation’

May 30, 2014

Surdna Awards $845K to Community Design Orgs


Operating under the tagline “Fostering sustainable communities in the United States,” the Surdna Foundation has developed the Thriving Cultures program to support artists, architects, and designers working in community engaged design. For this quarter of 2014, the foundation has awarded eight grants totalling an outstanding $845,000 to organizations that “combine artistic and design practice with authentic engagement of neighborhood residents and community organizations.” This quarter’s grantees include the Kounkuey Design Initiative, Skid Row Housing Trust, the Center for Sustainable Development, Michael Singer Studio, the People’s Emergency Center, MIT Community Innovators Lab (CoLab), Turner World Productions, and Gulf Coast Community Design Studio. Surdna’s Director of the Thriving Cultures Program Judilee Reed describes the investment in professional activities:

Surdna is supporting an approach to design that recasts the traditional top-down method to urban and regional planning, design, and architecture, to one that prioritizes an understanding of the way people live and work in their communities. This focus on professional practice is one that requires prioritizing partnerships based on trust and genuine dialogue that results in projects that are driven by a shared understanding of communities’ needs, values, and aspirations.

Click here to read more about the eight Community Engaged Design grant winners, online at

October 10, 2013

DCDC Publishes “Impact Detroit How-To Guides”


Launched in 2011, “Impact Detroit” is an initiative of the Detroit Collaborative Design Center (DCDC) aimed at building Detroit’s capacity for community development. With the support of the Surdna Foundation, Impact Design has created a brilliant, beautiful, colorful series of “How-to Guides” for communities and organizations, for example, explaining often complex city processes in more simple terms. There are 8 guides in all, starting with “How Do I…Use the How-To Guides?

How Do I…Use the How-To Guides?

How Do I…Prepare a Grant Proposal?

How Do I…Start a Social Media Strategy?

How Do I…Create and Maintain A Block Club?

How Do I…Organize a Neighborhood Clean Up Day?

How Do I…Outreach to My Community?

How Do I…Create a Story for My Project?

How Do I…Find Resources for My Small Business?

Click here to learn more about the Impact Detroit How-To Guides, online at

February 28, 2013

Public Interest Design Week Update

In this brief update, we want to first acknowledge our newest sponsors: The Curry Stone Design Prize and The McKnight Foundation. The video above beautifully and playfully introduces the first–the prestigious, $100,000+ award recognizing social design entrepreneurs. The second is one of the country’s largest foundations while remaining anchored in one state–Minnesota–and still under the direction of the family board. Without their crucial support as well as key funding from Surdna Foundation, the University of Minnesota College of Design, Enterprise Community Partners, Autodesk, The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, J&J Invision, Reed Construction Data, and Humanscale. Thanks to each and every one of these visionary entities, all led by visionary individuals.

Second, we continue to add and refine content across the Public Interest Design Week schedule. One important note is that our Affordable Housing Design Forum (even without any announcement of its agenda, much less speakers!) has already hit its maximum capacity, so registration is no longer available for that event. Thankfully, there are other great events that day, Thursday, March 21, including Day 1 of the Public Interest Design Institute led by Bryan Bell as well as New York Times architecture critic Michael Kimmelman‘s keynote lecture that evening. Next week, we’ll be announcing 3-4 films that we’ll be screening on Wednesday, March 20, including Extreme by Design, profiled here previously.

Click here for the most up-to-date information about Public Interest Design Week, online at

February 21, 2013

Social Impact Design Summit Report Released


Almost exactly one year to the day after the actual event, the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum and other partners have released their report on the Social Impact Design Summit. Titled Design and Social Impact: A cross-sectoral agenda for design education, research and practice, the 43-page report, edited by Julie Lasky, at the time with DesignObserver and now with The New York Times, is an important record of the February 27, 2012 event, preceding and subsequent milestones. We can only hope it spurs substantially deeper investment in social impact design by the National Endowment for the Arts and its summit partners, other foundations, corporations, and related entities–the principal intent of the summit.

Design and Social Impact: A cross-sectoral agenda for design education, research and practice chronicles the 2012 Social Impact Design Summit which brought together a diverse group of leading practitioners and educators explored the gaps, challenges, strategies to advance the burgeoning field of socially responsible design. Organized by Cooper-Hewitt, The Lemelson Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts, with support from the Surdna Foundation, the day-long event was held at The Rockefeller Foundation offices in New York.

Click here to read the announcement and download the actual report from the website. Note: The Cooper-Hewitt may be live-streaming an event tonight in conjunction with the report release, including a panel discussion, profiled here previously.

August 10, 2012

Surdna Foundation Seeks Program Officer

We’re not normally in the business of posting job opportunities, but we’re happy to make exceptions to that rule on occasions like this. The Surdna Foundation–a family foundation with assets of approximately $800 million and an annual grantmaking budget of $33 million–is expanding its Thriving Cultures Program area with the hire of a second program officer. One of the area’s priorities is to “assist community and cultural leaders, architects, landscape architects, urban planners, and others to collaboratively design vibrant public places.”

As part of fostering just and sustainable communities, Surdna recognizes the critical role of community-driven design as a catalyst for positive change. Disadvantaged cultural groups often have little say, and fewer resources, towards the creation of public spaces that recognize their values, preferences and needs. Surdna will assist community and cultural leaders, architects, designers, engineers, and others to increase their collaborative capacity to design places that honor the inhabitants and signal increased optimism about the community’s future.

Click here to download the Surdna Foundation’s new Program Officer for Thriving Cultures position description.

February 22, 2012

Social Impact Design Summit announced

Months in the making, the Smithsonian‘s Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, The Lemelson Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) announced yesterday plans to co-host a special convening, called the “Social Impact Design Summit.” The convening will take place this Monday, February 27, at the Rockefeller Foundation in New York, with roughly 40 people participating in the day-long session, and an additional 15 or so joining for an afternoon discussion.

Beyond representatives of several leading public interest design organizations, this is an unprecedented convening of funders working in or with capacity to impact the field. In addition to those listed above, other funders to be represented include the Driehaus Foundation, Enterprise Community Partners, Kresge Foundation, Nathan Cummings Foundation, Surdna Foundation, as well as several representatives of‘s funding partner, the Fetzer Institute, as announced here.

Click here for more information and a discussion forum on the Cooper-Hewitt’s website. Credit: Photo above from the Kibera Public Space Projects of the Kounkuey Design Initiative, featured in the Cooper-Hewitt’s Design with the Other 90%: CITIES exhibition.

December 8, 2011

Yale to host next Public Interest Design Institute

The Yale School of Architecture in New Haven, Conn., will host the third Public Interest Design Institute (PIDI) training program, to take place Friday and Saturday, January 13-14, 2012. Made possible by support from the Surdna Foundation and the The Architectural League of New York, this session will include speakers such as Beyond Shelter author Marie Alquilino, 2011-2012 Loeb Fellow Anna Heringer, Emily Pilloton of Project H Design, Michael Murphy of MASS Design Group, Yale Urban Design Workshop founder Alan Plattus, David Perkes of the Gulf Coast Community Design Studio, as well as (organizer) Bryan Bell of Design Corps.

The early bird registration fee of $350 applies through Friday, December 16; thereafter the cost increases to $450. Future session hosts include University of Texas at Austin (March 22, 2012) and University of Cincinnati (April 13-14, 2012).

Click here for more information on the Yale session and PIDI generally.

November 14, 2011

2nd Annual SEED Award Competition Announced

The Social/Economic/Environmental Design (SEED) Network, is seeking submissions for its Second Annual SEED Awards for Excellence in Public Interest Design. The award criteria align with the network’s five principles: Advocating with those who have a limited voice in public life; building structures for inclusion that engage stakeholders and allow communities to make decisions; promoting social equality through discourse that reflects a range of values and social identities; generating ideas that grow from place and build local capacity; and designing conserve resources and minimize waste.

The deadline for submissions is January 16, 2012, with winners to be announced January 27, 2012. Winners will receive $1,000 cash prize plus an all-expense-paid trip to present at the 12th Structures for Inclusion conference, scheduled to take place in Austin, Texas, March 24-25, 2012. Winners will also be included in a documentary series by The UpTake. The competition, films, and corresponding efforts are sponsored by the Surdna Foundation and the AIA College of Fellows Latrobe Prize.

Click here for more information on the Second Annual SEED Awards.

September 28, 2011

Living Cities celebrates two decades of service

Yesterday, funding conglomerate Living Cities officially celebrated its 20th anniversary. Created in 1991, Living Cities unites the interests and investments of 22 of the world’s largest foundations and financial institutions, all with an eye toward making cities better. Partners range from philanthropic powerhouses like the Gates, Ford Foundation, Kresge, MacArthur, McKnight, Rockefeller, and Surdna Foundations, among many others, to financial institutions such as Bank of America and Deutsche Bank. Over the past two decades, Living Cities has strategically invested nearly $1 billion, while leveraging many times that–$16 billion by estimates.

Our friends at Next American City live-blogged the Living Cities anniversary festivities, which culminated in a keynote presentation by HUD Sec. Shaun Donovan and a panel with experts working across the country. As highlighted by Sec. Donovan, himself an architect, dignifying design is a vital ingredient for the projects supported by Living Cities. Another crucial component emphasized by Sec. Donovan, Living Cities CEO Ben Hecht, and virtually every other speaker was communication with and between stakeholders. This last point was and remains a fundamental premise of this website as we chronicle public interest design–a movement in the making.

Also of note, Living Cities sports a brand new website, designed by Bureau Blank.

June 21, 2011

Surdna Foundation Program Director Opening

The Surdna Foundation, based in New York, is currently seeking a Program Director to lead its Thriving Cultures program. Established in 1917 and governed today primarily by fourth and fifth generation family members, the Surdna Foundation has assets of over $800 million and a total annual grantmaking budget of more than $33 million. This is an extraordinary opportunity to join a respected and innovative foundation and to advance its mission of fostering just and sustainable communities.

The Program Director for Thriving Cultures will lead a $7.5 million grantmaking program, sharpening existing strategies, developing new initiatives, and deepening institutional knowledge to ensure maximum impact of Foundation dollars. Working closely with senior program leadership across the Foundation, the Director will seek out opportunities to connect the Thriving Cultures program to areas of focus within the Foundation’s Sustainable Environments and Strong Local Economies programs. Click here to view a PDF of the complete position description.

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