AIGA Innovate

What does it mean to be truly innovative? We believe designers have a unique capacity to be agents of change. Together we, as the collective voice of design have an extraordinary pool of talent to draw from as we look to the future and aim to continually optimize our membership engagement while offering leadership opportunities. As designers, our members solve the world’s problems all day, and so it stands to reason that these talented creatives are the perfect people to help shape AIGA’s future and relevance in the world. 

AIGA Innovate is a four-year long fund with up to $250,000 to be awarded each year. Established in 2015, it aims to support and empower members and chapters in a whole new way. We recognize that this program is an exchange platform through which we can learn about our membership improve the sustainability and leadership challenges of our chapters, and the relationship of designers to their respective communities.

Application period 

The AIGA Innovate application period is now closed.

Congratulations to projects funded in 2017!

  • 50 States: Veterans + Artists United, AIGA West Michigan: After five years of partnering veterans with designers through their annual HERO[series] projects, Michigan-based nonprofit organization [HAS HEART] is hitting the road to take our powerful creative process nationwide on a 50-state working tour in which one veteran and one artist from each state will collaborate to tell that veteran’s story through art and design. 
  • AIGA Regional Design Leadership Summits, AIGA Philadelphia: AIGA Regional Design Leadership Summits will train designers in strategies, processes, and tools to meet the challenges ahead of them.The goal of AIGA Regional Design Leadership Summits is to prepare designers for leadership roles in government, for-profit, non-profit, public, and private enterprises through training.
  • Citizen Designer Now!: Tactical Design Activism, AIGA New York: Citizen Designer Now! is a nonpartisan, advocacy-based initiative from AIGA NY to increase professional civic engagement, and empower designers to use their craft as a means of productive civic participation. CDN! seeks to inspire, support and enable designers to use their own individual agency to effect change around social and civic issues that impact the public. The board committee seeks convene the design community in an ongoing conversation about how to best approach activism in order to provide outlets and opportunities for personal action, and ultimately, to help other organizations partner with designers on meaningful projects. Through our work with the Innovate Grant, we seek to advance the promises set forth in the CDN Pledge, and set scalable standards for activism at AIGA NY, and the design community at large.
  • Continuum Scholarship Training Program, AIGA Washington DC: The AIGA DC Design Continuum Fund is an annual merit-based scholarship program that supports local design-minded students by offering them financial assistance to pursue their design education. Through the sustained support of Continuum Circle members and friends over the last 10 years, AIGA DC has established an endowment for the Fund that will provide ongoing financial support for the program. The Continuum Scholarship is a national vision for the future. Our year-long training program will guide interested chapters on the fundamentals of philanthropy and fundraising so they can award a scholarship within one year, and then each year in perpetuity.
  • Design Education Teaching Resource, AIGA Design Educators Community (DEC): The Design Teaching Resource is an online curated database for educators and design professionals involved in education to share assignments and project documentation. This includes assignment details such as learning goals, final deliverables, a selection of images from the project, and instructor reflections on the assignment. 
  • Design for Good—Sprints for Cities: Building Diverse Creative Cohorts for Impact, AIGA Arizona: AIGA Arizona is partnering with Arizona State University’s The Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts and The Design School to jointly create, and pilot, a scalable ‘sprint’ curriculum for building ‘Creative Cohorts’ that can make an impact in their respective cities around a single pressing issue identified by a community. By having AIGA chapters and ASU co-host cohort sessions that offer learn-by-doing collaboration experiences in which a diverse team work with a community to create practical solutions, building a plan for measurable outcomes.
  • Design Thinking for Performing Arts, AIGA Miami: This collaboration between design and music will build a framework that contains a set of design based tools and instructions that will help musicians and artists build better experiences for their audience. These tools will go through a rigorous testing and development as they will be applied to design an orchestra performance at the New World Center. 
  • EMERGE 2.0, AIGA Minnesota:  EMERGE 2.0, building off of EMERGE, will provide opportunity to design a better way to reach non-traditional/underrepresented audiences, 0-5 years after graduation, to assist in personal/professional growth, with an emphasis on leadership and social impact.
  • Youth Design Program–An Educational, Community and Mentorship Initiative, AIGA Philadelphia: Philadelphia-based students, grades 6–8, would participate in an 8-week long Saturday school program featuring a series of design skill and thinking workshops. The volunteer team would be comprised of designers, web developers, writers, art directors and educators. Students will learn core principles of design and will personally experience the answer to the following questions: What is the power of design? Can design inspire people to take action? 

Keep an eye on this page for updates on these projects as they progress this year.

Download and read the information packet

Read this updated informational PDF for AIGA Innovate 2017: in it, you'll find additional details like application information, funding criteria, selection processes, deadlines, and more.

High standards for approval

Proposed projects must:

  • Align with the mission and direction of AIGA
  • Illustrate one or more of AIGA's core values (design excellence, leadership, equity, and impact, with an emphasis on categories: leadership and social impact)
  • Be developed in collaboration with a chapter's board of directors–a project ccannot be submitted by an individual member without the endorsement of the board
  • Meet a concrete, specific need in the community and identify a partner with whom you can develop this project, such as a nonprofit community association, a civic entity, a school, or expert resource.
  • Offer effective tools, resources, platforms, and strategies to facilitate active memebr participationand civic engagement at large
  • Be innovative: provoke new thinking about the practice, education, or understanding of design, demonstrate inspiraiton, and model new ways to engage designers in their communities
  • Your project must be executable and sustainable within proposed resources.
  • Consider the need for the impact of your project to serve both the variety of constituencies of AIGA members and to encourage participation among underrepresented groups.

Who can apply?

  • All applications must be submitted with the approval and participation of your local AIGA chapter board and the signature of your chapter president. AIGA Innovate grants are awarded to chapters, not to individual members.
  • Any individual leading a project and submitting on behalf of their chapter must 1) be a current AIGA member and 2) develop the application in collaboration with their AIGA chapter

Note: AIGA Innovate grants are not a stipend for individual chapter activity or one-time special events. Instead, this fund should be considered an opportunity for additional means to prototype an exciting new project for the wider organization.

Selection committee 2017

An eight-person selection committee, made up of past and incoming presidents council chairs and members-at-large, evaluate applications in both rounds. Once the committee selects proposals for funding, it is reviewed by the AIGA executive director, who grants final approval. Learn more about the selection committee.

Past Projects 

Learn more about the exciting projects funded in 2015 and 2016 to get a better sense of what types of projects AIGA Innovate supports. And check back for regular updates as those projects roll out throughout the year.


Make sure to read the updated informational packet in full, and review the AIGA Innovate FAQ's page. If you still have questions, email innovate [at]—we're here to help.