NYCxDESIGN Launches Its First Grant as a Non-Profit

Non-Profit Supporting Independent Design Entrepreneurs

As one of its first initiatives as a new non-profit organization, NYCxDESIGN is thrilled to announce the launch of The Breakout Grant. Kicking off a year of activations and celebrations to support New York City’s vibrant creative community, the inaugural Breakout Grant will help fund and promote entrepreneurship in design in New York City. Developed as a strategic lifeline during the current economic crisis and as a key pillar of the not-for-profit’s mission, this will be an annual program focused on independent design companies that have been in business more than three years and need support to bring a product or project to the next level.

Starting this week, NYCxDESIGN invites local independent talent and businesses across the five boroughs of New York City  to submit proposals around bringing to market a new product or project that is in late-stage development and can show demonstrated viability. A jury of distinguished design leaders will evaluate ideas across the following professional design disciplines: Architecture, Graphics & Branding, Urban Design, Interior Design, Product Design, Digital & Technology. 

“More than ever, New York City’s creative community is in need of support and the city is in need of its inventive, entrepreneurial spirit. This new initiative will have a lasting impact on an independent designer or business by giving them the resources and tools to pursue their next great idea,” notes Justin Garrett Moore, NYCxDESIGN jury member, transdisciplinary designer, and Program Officer for the Humanities in Place program at the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, AICP, NOMA. “It is paramount that any candidate’s work demonstrates a foundational commitment to diversity, inclusivity, and sustainability – three integral pillars to designing a greater NYC.”

“Throughout the year, NYCxDESIGN supports and promotes the city’s design ecosystem from established design companies, to schools, museums, trade shows, exhibitions and emerging creatives, but this grant was created with the independent design community in mind,” offers Valerie Hoffman, Program Director of NYCxDESIGN. “The eligibility criteria for this new program was crafted to focus on smaller studios of talented designers, many of whom are particularly hard hit during the current pandemic.”

This May, NYCxDESIGN and the jury will extend grants to three local independent designers or design businesses to go-to-market with their next design product or project. One $15,000 grant will be awarded to support a career-making moment. Two additional $5,000 grants will be given to back continued project growth. Finalists and grant recipients will be notified in late April and will be featured in an online gallery to showcase their proposed projects.

“We need to see great ideas continue to prosper here and NYCxDESIGN is taking the lead to make that happen with The Breakout Grant,” reflects jury member Victoria Milne, Principal of 6¢ Design and Milne Properties. “The grant will not only spotlight the awardees and finalists, but it is also a way to tell the story of New York design as an economic engine with global impact.”

In addition to this funding, grant recipients will receive extensive recognition through multiple platforms associated with NYCxDESIGN, including the May 2021 edition of NYCxDESIGN: The Magazine, DesignTV by SANDOW during Design Days (May 13-18), The Mic (NYCxDESIGN’s podcast hosted by Debbie Millman), along with robust social media promotion. Recipients will also have the opportunity for an in-person feature in Fall 2021 to showcase the culmination of their work supported by the grant  (i.e. a portfolio exhibition, studio tour, etc.). The $15,000 grant recipient will receive a complimentary media package from the SANDOW Design Group valued at $40,000.

Juror and Steering Committee member, Emmanuel Platt, Director of Merchandising Retail of MoMA will bring a product design lens to the program, “I am honored to be part of the NYCxDESIGN Grant jury and excited to support New York based talents that bring their vision and their work to our great city”. Additional confirmed jury members include Kinjil Mathur, Chief Marketing Officer of Squarespace; Cindy Allen, Editor in Chief of Interior Design; Susan Sellers, Executive Creative Director of 2×4; Coren Sharples, Principal of SHoP Architects; Ghislaine Viñas, Principal of Ghislaine Viñas; Clairie Weisz, FAIA, Principal of WXY; and Gregory Switzer, Managing Principal of Gregory Switzer Architecture, PC.

For more information on the application and selection process for The Breakout Grant, please visit:


NYCxDESIGN is a not-for-profit organization committed to empowering our city’s creative community through design and leveraging design in all its forms to foster transformation and progress forward. The organization makes a difference through live and virtual programs, content, education, and experiences that promote equity, diversity, and purpose in design. Operated by SANDOW, under agreement with New York City Economic Development Corporation, NYCxDESIGN also hosts a festival each year, providing emerging and established designers alike the opportunity to showcase the amazing design processes, products, and projects that are born in New York City.