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Nonprofit FAQs

Who can apply for a Design Grant?

Your organization is eligible to apply if you:

  • Are 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), please contact us.)
  • Have a Board of Directors
  • Are located in Philadelphia, Bucks, Delaware, Chester, Montgomery or Camden Counties
  • Are seeking preliminary design services

The Collaborative has awarded Design Grants to nonprofit organizations engaged in the enhancement of arts and culture, economic development, education, housing and community development, open space, religious institutions, and social services within their communities. Browse Our Work to see recent Design Grants. 

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 typically provide between $15,000 and $35,000 in preliminary design services - donated by highly skilled volunteers with expertise in architecture, landscape architecture, engineering, cost estimating, historic preservation, interior design, urban design, city planning, lighting design, graphic design, and more.

Design Grants may include the following preliminary design services:

  • conceptual design
  • feasibility studies
  • programming/space planning
  • site analyses and planning
  • renderings
  • facade improvement consultations
  • opinions of probable cost
  • existing conditions documentation
  • existing building systems assessments
  • preliminary code review
  • historic assessments
  • sustainability strategies
  • assistance with requests for proposals
What will my organization contribute? 

Design Grant recipients pay a $5,000 administrative fee to offset the Collaborative’s direct costs. Scholarships may be available for organizations receiving Design Grants to: 

  • 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.

Nonprofit organizations receiving Design Grants are expected to contribute their time and take an active role in the design process. You may be asked to provide additional background information or coordinate 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 the letter of agreement. 

How do I apply?

Because each Collaborative Design Grant is unique, we use our application process to learn as much as we can about your organization and the preliminary design services you need.

Step 1: Design Grant Application
Your first step is to complete a Design Grant application online, or download the PDF and mail it to us. The application asks for information about your organization and the project, as well as several basic nonprofit documents.

Step 2 : Interview and Site Visit
Within two weeks of receiving your application, a Collaborative staff member will contact you to arrange an interview and site visit.  The purpose of the interview and site visit 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
Based on the information gathered through the site visit, the Collaborative will recommend the package of preliminary design services and the combination of expertise that will meet your needs. 

How does the Collaborative select Design Grant recipients? 

The Collaborative has a Design Grant Selection Committee that reviews all applications on a quarterly basis. They use the following criteria to evaluate Design Grant applications:

  • Organizational capacity to fulfill mission and implement the proposed project
  • Request for technical assistance that can be met through the Collaborative's services, volunteers, and timetable
  • Demonstrated support for proposed project 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 for the project

In addition, the Collaborative gives priority to organizations who are receiving Design Grants to: 

  • 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.

More questions? Contact Heidi Segall Levy, Director of Design Services, at or (215) 587-9290. 



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