Designing a Better Chicago

Nominations due:
Midnight, Dec 31, 2019

Jan 7, 2020

Application Window:
Jan 7 – Feb 17, 2020

Awards Announced:
April 2020


Design Impact Grant Guidelines

We recognize that making change takes time and welcome applications to support both new and ongoing projects. The Designing a Better Chicago Advisory Committee does not expect immediate success. However, application timelines and deliverables will be reviewed for realistic progress towards short term and long term goals, and applicants will need to demonstrate measurable ways to track project impact.

Awardees will be expected to participate in public programming (e.g. panel discussion, site visit and tour) during NeoCon in the grant award period between June 2020 and June 2021.


Projects must have these elements:

  • Project can be new (starting in FY2020) or ongoing
  • Project must be design-oriented or must leverage design or design principles in its approach
  • Project can be anything from a physical project to a digital tool that improves public life or public space
  • Must have a clear and measurable impact on targeted audience
  • Project must be located or realized within Chicago city limits

We strongly encourage projects that:

  • Make a lasting, positive impact on your community (ideally beyond 2020).
  • Are broadly accessible.
  • Are socially-engaged and sustainable.

We welcome projects that:

  • Are a first-time collaboration between individuals or organizations.
  • Push an existing body of work in a new direction.

Who is Eligible

  • People who live or work in the City of Chicago
  • Individuals (18+)
  • Non-profit organizations or entities
  • Potential sectors projects may benefit include but are not limited to: Education, Environment, Housing, Public Safety, Health and Wellbeing, and Diversity.

Nomination Process

We are looking for people who are designing a better Chicago. Nominations are required for this invitation-only program, and the Advisory Committee will invite select nominees to complete a full grant application. You may nominate yourself, a peer, friend, or mentor — anyone that lives or works in the City of Chicago.


Nominations are currently closed.



Designing a Better Chicago is in partnership with DCASE, NeoCon, theMART, and the Design Museum.


Logos for DCASE, NeoCon, theMART, and Design Museum of Chicago