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Without volunteers, there would be no Community Design Collaborative. Our volunteers offer their time, skills and enthusiasm for design, giving back to the community while building their careers and practices.

Volunteers provide feedback at a Design Grant review meeting.
Image by GSK, Alan Brian Nilsen Photography, Inc.

“As a young engineer, the Collaborative gives me the opportunity to not only give back to my community, but also to develop my watershed management design skills. It’s easy to become engaged in these projects because the client—the community itself—is so engaged and passionate."

Molly Julian, Water Resources Designer

Volunteer on a Design Grant team

On a Design Grant team, you’ll work directly with nonprofits and community members to provide preliminary design services. Volunteers are Philadelphia area architects, planners, landscape architects, engineers, cost estimators, and others, and range from industry veterans to those new to their field. If you're a firm, you can put together a team drawn from your staff. If you're an individual, we'll place you on a team with other professionals. 

After completing a volunteer application, you'll receive quarterly emails with upcoming volunteer opportunities and you may respond to express your interest in a specific opportunity. Once on a Design Grant team, a Collaborative staff member will introduce you to the project. Then you will visit the site and meet with the nonprofit client. While the process varies based on the unique needs of each nonprofit, you’ll likely be participating in team meetings, facilitating community meetings, presenting at peer review meetings, and developing drawings to communicate conceptual designs. Learn more about Design Grants.

Participate in a Design Grant review meeting

Most projects have a peer review component, where one or two in-progress Design Grant teams informally present their work to Collaborative volunteer reviewers. As a reviewer, you'll have the opportunity to provide feedback, learn about current projects, and meet other volunteers. We host these meetings twice a month – every first and third Tuesday at noon. Once you complete a volunteer application, you’ll receive information about all of our volunteer opportunities, including Design Grant review meetings. Being a reviewer does not require an official or minimum commitment; participate whenever you're available. 

More ways to volunteer

In addition to volunteering through our Design Grants or as a reviewer, there are many other volunteer opportunities year round for specific activities or ongoing support. For example, you may serve on a committee or assist with an event.


If you’d like to find out more about ways to get involved, contact Heidi Segall Levy, Director of Design Services, at or 215-587-9290. 


News and Happenings
Collaborative welcomes six new board members
The Community Design Collaborative welcomes Modesto Bigas-Valedon, AIA, LEED AP BD + C; Rose Gray; Robert Leonard, Esq.; Charles Moleski; Maria Sourbeer; and Julie Wiley, PE to...
See Article
Partners for Change: Ballinger
Few architectural practices enjoy the longevity of Ballinger, based in Philadelphia since 1878. The firm pioneered interdisciplinary practice from its earliest years and today...
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Wearing Two White Hats: Paul Sehnert
More than one board member has described Paul Sehnert as the Collaborative’s biggest cheerleader. Paul is wrapping up his service as board co-chair, but will thankfully remain on...
See Article

Our Design Process

Nonprofit partnership and community engagement are hallmarks of our design process.

Nonprofit proposes an idea

Collaborative matches nonprofit with volunteer design team

Design team, nonprofit and community collaborate

Design team creates conceptual design

Nonprofit and community give feedback

Final conceptual design and recommendations compiled

Nonprofit moves forward with project



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