The Foundation was created by the Boston Society of Architects/AIA in 1971 to support public education programs in Massachusetts related to the built environment. Over the years, the Foundation has supported film and video productions, community-based programs, exhibitions and tours, in-school educational programs, research projects, conferences, lectures, symposiums, and other community activities.
Through 2016, the Foundation has distributed more than $1 million in grants to public—and private—sector groups. Read about the 2016 grant recipients. While the Foundation funds many programs for schoolchildren, it also supports programs for Massachusetts residents of all ages.
Our annual grants support projects and programs that increase public awareness of the importance of good design in the environments in which we live, work, play, and learn. Anyone interested in proposing a new idea or enhancing an existing program or project related to architecture, landscape, engineering, and/or community development and the built environment is invited to apply.
Who may apply for these grants?
Anyone with a good idea is encouraged to apply. We welcome applications from teachers, community groups, nonprofit organizations, arts centers, museums, and community service centers, as well as teams including individual artists and designers working with communities or educators in nontraditional settings.
What is the grant cycle?
Applications are typically available in May and are due in September. Applicants are notified in November for projects that will take place in the following calendar year.
Who is the target audience?
We fund proposals that serve Massachusetts audiences in all age groups. Programs for elementary and high school students that are either school-based or outside school hours are of special interest, as are projects that can be replicated and maximize the number of people served. We are also interested in programs that target underserved audiences that are culturally, economically, ethnically, racially, or otherwise diverse.
What is funded?
We fund programs and projects that:
Previously funded programs include classroom curriculum, community, and training programs that include innovative hands-on design projects. We accept applications related to successful past programs and encourage collaborations with other individuals or entities including architects, architectural organizations, and allied art and design groups and practitioners.
What is not funded?
We do not fund design fees, capital expenditures, endowment-building programs, the purchase of public art, archival projects, research projects, website development, software purchases, fellowships for professional travel, or an organization’s operating costs. Administrative costs related to the specific program may be included in the proposal.
How large are the grants?
Grants typically range in size from $500 to $3,000.
Recent grantees include:
Boston Preservation Alliance (Judy Neiswander)
Grantee type: advocacy nonprofit
Project: development of information resources to promote best practices for preservation of historic religious structures leveraging expertise of arch. community to address a widespread need in Boston neighborhoods
Grantee type: artist
Project: elementary and university student participation in “Flocks” public art installation large-scale student involvement and public visibility
Common Boston, Common Build (Paul Herbert, Assoc. AIA, designer; Heather McLean, Common Boston chair)
Grantee type: community youth center
Projects: youth explorations of design topics including architecture, landscape architecture, green building technology design and construction in action in public for local benefit
Hawthorne Youth and Community Center
Grantee type: community youth center
Projects: youth explorations of design topics including architecture, landscape architecture, green building technology low-income youth explore design and share knowledge with the local community
Learning By Design (Polly Carpenter)
Grantee type: education nonprofit
Projects: school-based design workshops helping design education get a foothold in K-12 schools in multiple communities