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Design Grant FAQS

Design grants may be awarded within any of our three sets of services: core grants, initiatives, or technical assistance. Get all the facts about our design grants, or click on a specific question from the list below.

What preliminary design services will a design grant provide?
Who will provide the preliminary design services?
What is the duration of a design grant?
Are there fees associated with design grants?
What will be expected from my organization?
Who is eligible to receive a design grant?
When should I apply for a design grant? 
How does the Collaborative select design grant recipients?

What preliminary design services will a design grant provide?
The Collaborative works with each design grant recipient to determine the approach and scope of services that will best meet their needs.

Design grants may include any of the following preliminary design services:

  • conceptual design studies
  • feasibility studies
  • existing conditions assessments
  • facade improvement consultations
  • assistance with requests for proposals
  • advisory services
     

Design grants may provide the following preliminary design products:

  • programming studies
  • space plans
  • site and floor plans – existing and/or proposed
  • elevations – existing and/or proposed
  • architectural assessments
  • structural assessments
  • building systems assessments
  • preliminary code reviews
  • historic preservation assessments
  • graphic/experiential design studies
  • conceptual renderings
  • sustainability strategies
  • phasing, implementation and maintenance plans
  • opinions of probable cost
     

Who will provide the preliminary design services?
Services will be provided by either design professional volunteers or design professionals on staff. Core grants and initiatives will be provided by volunteers. Technical assistance may be provided by either volunteers or staff. Volunteers may include architects, landscape architects, urban designers, planners, engineers, historic preservationists, graphic designers, lighting designers, and cost estimators.

What is the duration of a design grant?
Depending upon the services included in the design grant, the duration will vary. Core grants are typically 6 months in duration. Initiatives range from 9 to 24 months. Technical assistance ranges from 1 to 6 months.

Are there fees associated with design grants?
All design grant applicants will pay a $250 non-refundable application fee that will be deducted from the administrative fee required with each awarded design grant to offset the Collaborative’s direct costs. The administrative fee for core grants is $5,000. Administrative fees for initiatives and technical assistance vary depending upon the scope of services of the design grant. Scholarships for core grants may be available for organizations whose development project will:

  • Advance neighborhood economic development in the City of Philadelphia, or
  • Support Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) activities in service areas approved by the Philadelphia Division of Housing and Community Development
     

What will be expected from my organization?
Organizations receiving design grants are expected to contribute their time and take an active role in the design process. For example, you may be asked to provide additional background information or coordinate community task force meetings, volunteer team meetings, and site visits. These responsibilities and others unique to your design grant will be agreed upon and detailed in a letter of agreement which outlines your design grant volunteer team, scope, and time frame.

Who is eligible to receive a design grant?
The recipient of a design grant must:

  • Be classified as a nonprofit corporation and qualified as tax exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. If you're not a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, please contact Heidi Segall Levy, Director of Design Services, at 215.587.9290 x111 or heidi@cdesignc.org.
  • Have a Board of Directors
  • Be located in Philadelphia, Bucks, Delaware, Chester, Montgomery or Camden Counties
  • Be seeking preliminary design services

The Collaborative awards design grants to many different types of organizations, including those supporting arts and culture, economic development, education, housing and community development, open space, religious institutions, and social services. Browse Our Work to see recent design grants.

How do I apply?
Each Collaborative design grant is unique. We use our application process to learn as much as we can about you and the preliminary design services you need. Depending on what your organization type, you will be directed to our Design Grant Application, to our Partner Application; or to contact our staff for additional direction.

Design Grant Application Process
Step 1: Complete Online Application
Complete the Design Grant Application, which you can access by clicking on your organization type at the bottom of our Design Services page. The application will ask for information about your organization and the proposed project, as well as several basic nonprofit documents. There is a non-refundable $250 application fee to be paid upon submission.

Step 2: Design Consultation
Within two weeks of receiving your application, a design professional from the Collaborative staff will contact you to arrange a design consultation which will consist of an interview, site visit, and advisory services. The purpose of this consultation is to gather more information about your organization and project, determine whether preliminary design services are right for you, and identify the specific preliminary design services that you need.

Step 3: Scope of Services/Referral
Based on the information gathered through the design consultation, the Collaborative will recommend the package of preliminary design services and the combination of expertise that will meet your needs. These will be clearly outlined in a follow-up email which will also include next steps and a time frame for the consideration of your application and the awarding of a design grant. If it is determined that our preliminary design services are not the right fit for your needs, the Collaborative will provide advisory or referral services to assist with the advancement of your project and goals. The value of the consultation and any follow-up advisory or referral services is typically between $500 and $1,000.

Partner Application Process
Step 1: Complete Online Application
Complete the Partner Application, which you can access by clicking on your organization type at the bottom of our Design Services page. This application is similar to an expression of interest. It asks for basic information about your organization; the issues, challenges, or opportunities you want to address; and technical assistance you are seeking from the Collaborative.

Step 2: Review and Follow-up
Within two weeks of receiving your Partner Application, a Collaborative staff member will contact you to further discuss your organization, interests, and goals. You may be asked to provide additional information, a meeting may be scheduled, or you may be asked to submit a Design Grant Application.

When should I apply for a design grant?
You can apply at any time. The Collaborative receives and reviews applications on a rolling basis.

How does the Collaborative select design grant recipients?
Our Design Grant Selection Committee awards design grants on a quarterly basis, using the following criteria:

  • Organizational capacity to fulfill mission and implement
  • Request for technical assistance that can be met through the Collaborative's services, volunteers, and timetable
  • Demonstrated support by stakeholders (board, funders, community, public agencies, elected officials)
  • Potential to provide opportunities for community participation and engagement
  • Potential to demonstrate principles of good design to a larger audience
  • Broader significance—potential to address the needs of low- and moderate-income residents, improve the quality of life within communities, support the goals and objectives of a neighborhood strategic plan, or provide new models for addressing community needs
  • Demonstrated interest by design professionals in volunteering
     

In addition, the Collaborative gives priority to organizations who are receiving design grants which:

  • Advance neighborhood economic development in the City of Philadelphia, or
  • Support Community Development Block Grant activities in service areas approved by the Philadelphia Division of Housing and Community Development.
     

Who should I contact if I have additional questions? 
Please contact Heidi Segall Levy, Director of Design Services, at 215.587.9290 x111 or heidi@cdesignc.org.

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