The Sylvia Harris Citizen Design Award

Professional designers that have developed a strong project concept to ignite change in their community, along with a well researched and thought out plan for execution, will have the opportunity to apply for the Sylvia Harris Citizen Design Award for $10,000 toward implementation of the project.

Sylvia Harris (1953 – 2011) is widely recognized as a pioneer, a generous mentor and a vital inspiration to the field of social impact design. In that spirit, the Sylvia Harris Citizen Design Award has been established to honor her legacy by supporting other vanguards dedicated to public design.

Professional designers may apply with a thoroughly developed project that meets the following broad parameters:
» Addresses a pressing social issue within the designer’s community (or a community in which the designer is deeply embedded)
» Can be implemented within that community in a timely manner
» Will deliver positive results that can be measured
Projects must be feasible and applicants must clearly demonstrate the ability to execute and follow through with the implementation process.

August 1, 2014

The Sylvia Harris Citizen Design Award is for practicing professionals from all design disciplines (graphic, product, architecture, interior, interactive, service design, etc.). Applicants must have a minimum of one year of professional design experience. Applicants must be based in the United States and the projects must be implemented in the United States in their own community or in a community in which they are deeply embedded.

All Award applications will be reviewed by an independent committee of creative professionals, business, civic and non-profit leaders. Projects will be evaluated on concept, viability, and potential for impact.

The winner will be announced approximately one month after the deadline at which time monies will be made available.

Application Process:
Applying for the Award is a three-part process:

» Part 1: Register as a Design Ignites Change participant
Register online here. You will receive a participant login, which is required for Part 2. It is recommended that you submit your registration form at least two weeks before the deadline.

» Part 2: Post your project’s case study on
You will post your project case study with the login you receive once you become a registered participant.

» Part 3: Complete an online application
An online application must also be submitted through PitchBurner (requires a separate login) by the deadline. You can see all of the application questions here
The link to the online PitchBurner application will be posted shortly.

The following parameters and restrictions apply:
» All awarded projects—or a distinct portion of the project that this award will fund—must be executed within one year after the award is announced. Extensions will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
» Award recipients will work under the close supervision of Worldstudio, AIGA and professional consultants until the completion of the project, based on their timeline.
» Projects can be independently executed in partnership with a corporation or non-profit organization.
» Design Ignites Change Advisory Board members are not eligible to directly apply, although members from organizations they are affiliated with are eligible
» Worldstudio and AIGA employees and family members are ineligible.
» All concepts remain the intellectual property of the applicants.
» Adobe Foundation, Worldstudio, AIGA and Design Ignites Change have the right to reproduce and showcase the submitted entries as case studies.

About Sylvia Harris:
Over her twenty-five year career Sylvia Harris championed “good design for the common good,” tirelessly promoting accessible communications for mass audiences. As founder and principal of Citizen Research & Design, she consulted to the nation’s largest hospitals, universities, and civic agencies on strategic design planning, public policy development, and innovation management.

Some of her career highlights include: creative director of the 2000 National Census for the U.S. Census Bureau; an appointment to the U.S. Postal Service Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee; advisor for Design Trust for Public Space, the African Burial Ground and AIGA’s Design for Democracy; educator at Yale University, The School of Visual Arts and The Cooper Union; and co-founder of the firm Two Twelve Associates.

Sylvia was a founder of the nonprofit, Public Policy Lab, which is dedicated to improving public services and empowering Americans through design and policy. She founded the Citizen Designer movement shortly before her untimely death in 2011.

Learn more here: