Design Museum Foundation Awarded Major Grants

November 27, 2018 | | View Comments

Four programatic and operational grants will increase impact

December 4, 2018 — Design Museum Foundation, a national, non-profit design museum based in Boston, with branches in Portland and San Francisco, has received significant grant funding for our mission and future programs related to youth development, diversity, and organizational capacity building.

The new funding comes from The National Endowment for the Arts, Sappi: Ideas that Matter, the Barr-Klarman Massachusetts Arts Initiative, and Massachusetts Cultural Council.

Sam Aquillano, Executive Director of Design Museum said, “This level of corporate, government, and foundational support represents a watershed moment in the work we’re doing at Design Museum to create impact through great design. We’re grateful to each of these organizations and to all of our individual and institutional funders for believing in our unique, impactful approach.”


About the Grants:

National Endowment for the Arts, Our Town

Design Museum received a grant of $75,000 to work collaboratively with Cambridge’s Youth Centers and the Office of Workforce Development to reimagine the Neighborhood Service Project (NSP), a pre-existing Cambridge, MA after-school program where youth develop solutions to challenges in their communities. Design Museum will incorporate creative problem solving, placemaking, and job skills into the curriculum to connect local young people to more opportunities in their own communities.

“I see this program as a way to connect our youth with the burgeoning 21st century economy in Cambridge,” remarked City Manager,  Louis A. DePasquale. “Our five youth centers will form a bridge between underserved youth and local innovators — creating pathways for success. At the same time,  the solutions our youth develop will improve livability for the whole city of Cambridge.” 

Sappi: Ideas that Matter

The Sappi panel of judges wrote, “We asked how design can be used to drive change, and Design Museum answered.” We were awarded $31,000 to develop a multi-faceted campaign including a traveling exhibition, public events, a website, and publication to show what’s possible in creative careers as well as to highlight people of color, women, and diverse communities who are leaders in their field.

Barr-Klarman Massachusetts Arts Initiative

Design Museum was selected to participate in the Barr-Klarman Massachusetts Arts Initiative, a partnership between two Boston-based foundations, Barr and The Klarman Family Foundation. The  initiative is a $25 million, six-year investment in 29 arts and cultural organizations from across Massachusetts. Participating organizations receive flexible, multi-year operating support grants, in addition to training and technical assistance from TDC, a nonprofit consulting and research firm. Design Museums’s engagement in the initiative begins with funding of $75,000 per year for three years from the Barr Foundation and The Klarman Family Foundation.

“Organizations like Design Museum are the cultural hearts of their communities,” said San San Wong, Director of Arts & Creativity for the Barr Foundation. “They are sites of assembly and dialogue, often working to foster understanding and connection across cultural differences. It is our privilege to support Design Museum in this journey to further strengthen its financial health and capacity to adapt to change.”

Massachusetts Cultural Council

Lastly, we received a two year grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council as part of its Cultural Investment Portfolio (CIP) Gateway program. MCC’s CIP provides general operating support and project grants to nonprofit organizations with public programs in the arts, sciences, and humanities across Massachusetts. Demand to participate is high because, in addition to the financial support ($6,000 over two years), the Gateway is the on-ramp to larger unrestricted operating support grants.

Design Museum is thrilled to be selected for this round of Gateway investment and honored to have the support of the Commonwealth and MCC. This important recognition along with unrestricted funding will help us continue to bring the power of design everywhere.

For more information about Design Museum or our programs, visit




Media Contact: Jennifer Jackson    888-287-0167 x704