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Design Grants


Design Grants offer pro bono preliminary design services to community-based nonprofits in greater Philadelphia. These services are provided by teams of volunteer design professionals like architects, landscape architects, preservationists, interior designers, urban planners, engineers, and cost estimators. Design Grants can be implemented as projects or charrettes, depending on your needs. 
What is preliminary design? 

Preliminary design is the first 10% of the overall design process for a project. It gives you essential information and tools to move ahead: conceptual drawings to communicate your vision, studies to prove your project is feasible, and preliminary cost estimates to guide fundraising. Preliminary design helps you make important early decisions. It greatly increases the chances that your project will be successfully completed.  

Projects respond to the specific needs of nonprofit organizations through a community-engaged design process.

Projects are the core of what we do at the Collaborative. The sites are brought to us by community organizations. The services we provide are tailored to their specific needs. Our services can provide compelling visions, conceptual designs, and renderings as well as practical information such as project feasibility, existing conditions, and space needs.  An interdisciplinary team of volunteer design professionals works directly with the nonprofit and often the community it serves, facilitating community input and collaboration.

Projects take up to 6 months and typically provide between $15,000 and $35,000 in donated services. Nonprofits may receive conceptual drawings, preliminary cost estimates, and written findings and recommendations.

Charrettes bring designers, community members, community organizations, city agencies, developers, and experts together to collaborate.

Charrettes focus on a challenging community issue or a pivotal development opportunity. A charrette is a daylong collaborative event consisting of brainstorming possible design solutions and a public presentation of ideas. They harness the skills and imaginations of multiple design professionals and stakeholders. Prior to the charrette, an interdisciplinary team of volunteer design professionals works directly with the nonprofit and facilitates a community meeting to gather input. Following the charrette, the volunteer team compiles and refines ideas and designs from the charrette.

Charrettes take 6 to 9 months to complete and typically provide between $75,000 and $100,000 in donated services. Nonprofits may receive conceptual drawings, preliminary cost estimates, and written findings and recommendations.

Apply for a Design Grant and we’ll work with you to determine the preliminary design services and design process that's the best fit for you. 

Our Design Process

We tailor our design services to meet the unique needs of nonprofits—but we always offer a collaborative design process in which designers work side by side with communities to put their visions down on paper in order to move forward.

Nonprofit proposes an idea

Collaborative matches nonprofit with volunteer design team

Design team, nonprofit and community collaborate

Design team creates conceptual design

Nonprofit and community give feedback

Final conceptual design and recommendations compiled

Nonprofit moves forward with project


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