AN’s editors have you covered this holiday season if you’re on the hunt for a singular gift that will please even the most discriminating design enthusiast on your list. And while heirloom hammers engraved with inspirational wisdom from Frank Lloyd Wright and Bauhaus-inspired baubles for the well-trimmed fir are sure to elicit wide smiles from their respective recipients, don’t forget to spread that joy—and open your digital pocketbook—to a worthy nonprofit organization.
Whether they’re helping to rebuild natural disaster-ravaged communities, foster the next generation of women architects, or provide essentials to families for whom permanent housing is elusive, below are just a few recommendations for nonprofits and causes working to impart positive, impactful change that would surely appreciate seasonal support as 2021 comes to a close. Happy giving!
Founded and led by Tiffany Brown, the Detroit-based executive director of the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA), 400 Forward is named in recognition of the 400th African American woman to become a licensed architect in the United States in 2017. Although that number has increased four years later, only around .4 percent of licensed architects practicing in the U.S. are Black women. An initiative of the nonprofit Urban Arts Collective, 400 Forward was established to provide support to the next 400 woman architects, particularly young women of color. The initiative’s stated mission is to “uplift girls by giving them the tools they need to address social issues created by the unjust built environments of our inner-city communities” through mentorship and outreach initiatives, community engagement programs, and scholarships and financial support.” Donate here.
The Center for Architecture’s J. Max Bond Jr. Fund
Manhattan’s Center for Architecture allows supporters to contribute in numerous ways beyond standard membership options including personal contributions to the J. Max Bond Jr. Fund. Donations to the fund support programming, namely a signature annual lecture series, that “elevates contemporary voices and addresses issues related to equity, underrepresented communities in design, and global cultures—particularly those of Africa and the African diaspora.” The lecture series and future fund initiatives honor the memory of Bond (1935-2009), a pioneering African American architect, educator, and activist who served as a partner at Davis Brody Bond and former dean of the City College of New York (CCNY) School of Architecture and Environmental Studies. The J. Max Bond Jr. Lecture was founded in 2010 as a collaboration between the New York Chapter of the National Organization of Minority Architects (nycoba|NOMA), the American Institute of Architects New York (AIANY) Diversity and Inclusion Committee, and the J. Max Bond Center for Urban Futures at CCNY. Donate here.
Designing Justice + Designing Spaces
Led by co-founder, executive director, and design director Deanna Van Buren, the work of Oakland, California-based nonprofit Designing Justice + Designing Spaces (DJDS) is focused on bringing an end to mass incarceration “by building infrastructure that addresses its root causes: poverty, racism, unequal access to resources, and the criminal justice system itself.” As noted by the DJDS, donations will enable the group to “design and develop new buildings, places, and programs that provide alternatives to prisons and jails.” Donate here.
The Open Architecture Collaborative
Physically headquartered in Oakland but supporting a global chapter network, the Open Architecture Collaborative (known in its original iteration as Architecture for Humanity), develops a range of educational programming “for designers and architects to grow as leaders and changemakers while simultaneously producing placemaking programs with community developers and associations to inspire ownership and civic engagement in traditionally marginalized communities.” As noted by the nonprofit, donations “mean enabling more community members with tools and connections to change their neighborhoods and to fight systemic disinvestment, environmental injustice, blight, and unsafe streets and public spaces.” Donate here.
Emergency Architects Foundation
Accredited by both the United Nations and European Union, non-governmental organization the Emergency Architects Foundation (EAF) has supported over 125 large-scale building projects—schools, hospitals, housing, orphanages, and “other infrastructure necessary for economic recovery”—in 40-some humanitarian crisis-stricken countries since it was first established in 2001 by French architect Patrick Coulombel. A 2021 recipient of the prestigious Françoise Abella Prize awarded by the Académie des Beaux-Arts, the EAF has most recently carried out action programs in Haiti, Armenia, Beirut, and flood-ravaged areas of Belgium. “To continue to rebuild more lives every day thanks to your support, that is our wish for 2022!” reads the EAF donation page.
The Resident Relief Foundation
Although the Resident Relief Foundation (RRF) was established in 2018 ahead of the COVID-19 crisis, the mission of this California-based nonprofit is to “help keep responsible residents in their apartments during an unexpected financial emergency and also help them better prepare for future emergencies” has never been more vital. Because the organization’s overhead is wholly covered by its founders and board, all monetary contributions go directly toward helping RRF fulfill its goal to “provide rental assistance and financial education to individuals in need across the country and help stem the looming housing, eviction, and homeless crisis caused by the pandemic.” Donate here.
Founded in 2019, donations to charitable organization The Sled benefit its crucial (even more so during the coronavirus pandemic) mission to assist in-need New York City public school students and their families, most of whom are living in shelters or other forms of non-permanent housing. The Sled operates two specific drives: the year-round Service Drive, which provides a range of essentials such as bedding, cookware, school supplies, and more to students and families in need, and the holiday-focused Sugarplum Drive, which kicks off around Thanksgiving and concludes at the beginning of the New Year. Donate here.
Relief funds for those impacted by the recent tornado outbreak
From tropical storm systems wreaking havoc across the Gulf Coast and Northeast to unprecedented heatwaves in the Pacific Northwest to yet another spate of destructive wildfires, 2021 was, sadly, one for the books in terms of devastating extreme climate events in the United States and beyond. Most recently, a historic tornado outbreak rampaged across six states, leveling thousands of homes and businesses. Kentucky was the hardest hit, where an estimated 88 people perished and over 100 more remain unaccounted for. There are numerous ways to lend support including a centralized GoFundMe hub featuring verified campaigns and the Team Western Kentucky Tornado Relief Fund established by Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear. Chef José Andrés and his nonprofit World Central Kitchen are also on the ground in the Bluegrass State providing warm and nutritious meals to those in need.
Keeping it local
For those looking to keep their holiday-time acts of largesse strictly local, there’s likely no deficit of worthy nonprofit organizations and charitable causes in your own backyard that would be appreciative of the support. Just a few that AN’s New York City-based team have singled out include: Design Trust for Public Space, Hester Street, Housing Works, Henry Street Settlement, the LILAC Preservation Project, the Remember the Triangle Fire Coalition, the Four Freedoms Park Conservancy, and Community Food Advocates.