Sam Fox School Receives $40,000 NEA Grant

Posted by Liz Kramer January 15, 2020


The Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts at Washington University in St. Louis has been approved for a $40,000 Art Works grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to support the Design Futures Student Leadership Forum, which will be hosted on campus May 18-22, 2020.

The forum is a five-day, interdisciplinary gathering that trains emerging design leaders in community engagement to further social equity in our neighborhoods. Funding from the NEA grant will support housing for visiting students, meals from local businesses, and other associated costs. Assistant professor Penina Acayo Laker will serve as the principal investigator for this grant.

During the Design Futures Forum, nearly 70 students and 30 practitioners and faculty from across the country will convene in St. Louis to engage in leadership development workshops, public lectures, and tours of local St. Louis projects that exemplify equitable design and community development. Participants may come from built environment disciplines such as architecture, landscape architecture, and planning; from visually based fields such as communication design, art, and service design; or from adjacent disciplines, including engineering, business, community development, and urban studies. Students from 10-14 universities across the country are expected to participate. They will join the forum’s alumni network of over 350 young leaders in design and community development focused on social equity.

Students attending the forum will learn from nationally recognized leaders whose practices push the conversation around equitable community development and leverage the power of design for transformation in society. Students will be trained in community engagement tactics, facilitation skills, critical analysis on systems of oppression, and how to integrate equitable values into projects.


Local practitioners and faculty are encouraged to apply to present an elective workshop at the Design Futures Forum; more information is available here.
Proposals are due February 7, 2020>>

Additionally, Washington University sends 5 students to attend the forum each year: two from architecture, two from art and design, and one from a different division of the University. This year, WashU will also select 10 volunteers who, in exchange for supporting the forum, will be able to attend many of its events and programs.
Applications are due March 6, 2020>>

For more information about Design Futures, contact Liz Kramer. To find out more about how National Endowment for the Arts grants impact individuals and communities, visit