desigNYC’s mission is to deliver the transformative power of design to nonprofits in New York. Our program connects civic-minded designers with extraordinary nonprofits for pro bono design projects. Our focus is local. Our approach is multidisciplinary. Our process is participatory, and community-centric.


Make Local Impact

We believe social change is encouraged and accelerated by strengthening local communities, and that designers are rewarded by seeing their work make impact where they live. The nonprofits and projects we select improve the lives of individuals and communities in New York in the areas of health, education, housing, the environment, and public space.

Involve Many Design Disciplines

We seek projects representing a broad cross-section of design fields, including interior, landscape, and communication design, as well as architecture and urban planning.

Foster a Community-Centric Process

Whether it’s called user-centered design, human-centered design, or just good design, we encourage all of our teams to include a breadth of constituents in their process through interviews, workshops, public programs, and other outreach techniques.


A group of design leaders in NYC came together in 2009 to explore how we might tap into the design for social change movement to improve the lives of New Yorkers. Rather than work on global issues, we were drawn  to local issues needing local design solutions. We were convinced that through a collaborative design process, we could build community and increase social capital.

Our collective response was to create desigNYC. In 2010 we moved from being a 100% volunteer collective towards a sustainable enterprise. We formalized our structure, were incorporated in the State of New York and received our 501(c)(3) designation by the IRS.

In 2010 we also hired an Executive Director, and continue to rely on the generosity of volunteers, donors, and the community to run our programs. We matched nonprofits with designers for over 40 projects, and participated in design fairs and public programs to promote the power of design for social change. 2014 was the final year of desigNYC project collaborations, with the program coming to a close at the November 6th exhibition.