BENEFITING: DESIGNYC NOW INC
is to improve the lives of New Yorkers through the power of design. Grassroots in nature, desigNYC is a platform that demonstrates the value of design through action. We connect civic-minded designers with extraordinary nonprofits serving the public good. At its heart, desigNYC is a social innovator, accelerator and advocate. HELP SUPPORT OUR MISSION!
Design can be a powerful tool in solving social and environmental challenges, but is often underutilized by the groups that need it most: world-changing nonprofits and the communities they serve. During the depths of the financial crisis in 2009, a group of New York design leaders, spearheaded by Edwin Schlossberg and Michelle Mullineaux of ESI Design, came together to explore how to tap into the design for social change movement to create effective and replicable solutions to our city’s most pressing problems. Rather than work on global issues, the group was drawn to local issues that needed local design solutions. Through a collaborative design process, the team sought to build relationships between the design community and the nonprofit sector that would be mutually beneficial to all in the long term. desigNYC launched its first programs in 2009 as a grassroots collective. In 2011, the organization was formally incorporated in the State of New York, approved by the IRS as a charitable 501(c)(3) organization and received seed funding from Bloomberg Philanthropies, which led to the recruitment of its first executive director, Laetitia Wolff.
THE GRASS IS GREENER
Over the last three-four years, desigNYC has pioneered a service offering that matches multidisciplinary designers with extraordinary nonprofits serving the public good. As a connective platform, it provides tactical support that enables the collaborations to flourish, including training workshops, guidelines, legal templates, ongoing advisor interaction, and marketing support through events, public programs, as well as videos, PR and social media. We inspire collaboration and action, generate social capital, share stories to spread good ideas and demonstrate the power of design to trigger as a catalyst for transformative change.
Through our program, desigNYC has successfully launched over 35+ projects creating solutions affecting a range of social and environmental issues impacting the city, including affordable housing, sustainable development, social justice, human health, green space, urban farming, local food systems, youth leadership, and more. We’ve improved the lives of hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers and engaged millions through our public programs, PR and social media outreach. As an example, a landscape design project at Serviam Gardens, an affordable housing complex in the Bronx, has transformed the lives of its senior residents by improving their physical and mental health through increased community engagement, exercise opportunities and healthy food options provided by the community-maintained vegetable gardens.
We are experts at doing a lot with a little and with a $150,000 seed investment in years one and one two has enabled desigNYC to administer a very lean 99% volunteer-based organization. With dedicated professional volunteers, we've delivered close to $2 million of pro bono professional service and in-kind product donations benefitting over 35+ nonprofits through a very lean, organization led by one Executive Director and over 75 active volunteers.
A GROWING PROGRAM OF PROJECT COLLABORATIONS
This year’s selection focuses on the theme of healthy communities, supporting nonprofit initiatives that promote physical activity in urban spaces, create tools for health outreach programs, and provide access to fresh foods. Highlights from this year’s selection include an out-of-the-box marketing outreach campaign for Aurthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health and a food access guide to serve Two Bridges Neighborhood Council residents, as well as a mobile Botanica cart to help disseminate and collect alternative medicinal recipes in Latino South Williamsburg for award-winning community organization El Puente.
EXPANDING OUR EDUCATIONAL OUTREACH
Launching the desigNYC Lab: We are pleased to introduce a new service offering this year, that broadens our workshop service. We piloted design classes last fall in conjunction with our annual exhibition and we are now launching the desigNYC Lab, a custom-designed, hands-on, highly interactive experience focused on developing a strategic framework to help nonprofit organizations communicate more effectively with designers and become better clients for design service.
EXCITING UPCOMING PUBLIC PROGRAMS
We are currently working on several public programs including:
New Museum Ideas City Festival: on May 4th, desigNYC will feature a selection of recent and current Lower East Side-focused projects, and will offer crash course/interactive workshops on how to build a successful design brief, as well as informal talks by designers.
NYCxDESIGN: we will be hosting a design conversation on May 18 at the Wanted Design Fair and have been actively involved in the planning of the city’s Design Week festival. Michelle Mullineaux and Ed Schlossberg, our co-founders, have been participating on the Steering Committee and Laetitia Wolff has been actively involved in the Community Development committee. We have been invited to partake in public policy conversations, for instance through DDC’s Town & Gown and Center for Urban Futures.
FUNDING VISION AND NEED
We have actively been working on diversifying our funding model beyond the foundation grant model, have received some support from corporations and established new income-earning partnerships with trade organizations, however we are still in need of major support in order to further our mission. Over the last four years we’ve learned a lot about what drives pro bono professional service, and how lean, smart organizations can do more with less to help solve pressing challenges and improve city life, but we need your help. Please donate now.