Uplifting stories from ITM

In the wake of COVID-19 and Black Lives Matter, ITM past winners are stepping up to help a world in need.

For 20 years, Sappi has supported social impact work performed by designers. During this global crisis and racial justice movement, we checked in with our Ideas that Matter (ITM) community to see what they were up to. We were overwhelmed—but not surprised—to learn how this community continues to step up.
 

For 20 years, Sappi has supported social impact work performed by designers. During this global crisis and racial justice movement, we checked in with our Ideas that Matter (ITM) community to see what they were up to. We were overwhelmed—but not surprised—to learn how this community continues to step up.
 

826 LA and 826 National students use poetry to demand social justice

In 2015, 826LA and in 2016, 826 National were Ideas that Matter grant recipients. 826 is the largest youth writing network in the country with nine chapters that serve nearly 40,000 under-resourced students ages 6-18 each year. Each chapter has an imaginative storefront that reimagines tutoring as anything but traditional; provides a gateway for meeting families, teachers, and volunteers; and connects students with community members.

Whether it’s the March for Our Lives, the Youth Climate Strike, or Black Lives Matter, young people are at the frontlines of combating injustice and changing the world. And right now is no different.

In this spirit, 826 National recently solicited youth poetry from its nine chapters and worked with 826CHI, 826LA and 826 Valencia to edit the resulting compilation called Poets in Revolt!

The talented student voices in the publication explore themes including body positivity, institutional racism, religious freedom, sexual identity, bicultural identity, climate crisis, gun violence, and education inequality. Poets in Revolt! began as a workshop led by Ola Faleti at 826 Chicago during which students drew meaningful connections between poetry and social justice. The theme echoed topics students have been exploring across the 826 network in recent years and is an important document of this moment in youth voice and activism.
 

826 LA and 826 National students use poetry to demand social justice

In 2015, 826LA and in 2016, 826 National were Ideas that Matter grant recipients. 826 is the largest youth writing network in the country with nine chapters that serve nearly 40,000 under-resourced students ages 6-18 each year. Each chapter has an imaginative storefront that reimagines tutoring as anything but traditional; provides a gateway for meeting families, teachers, and volunteers; and connects students with community members.

Whether it’s the March for Our Lives, the Youth Climate Strike, or Black Lives Matter, young people are at the frontlines of combating injustice and changing the world. And right now is no different.

In this spirit, 826 National recently solicited youth poetry from its nine chapters and worked with 826CHI, 826LA and 826 Valencia to edit the resulting compilation called Poets in Revolt!

The talented student voices in the publication explore themes including body positivity, institutional racism, religious freedom, sexual identity, bicultural identity, climate crisis, gun violence, and education inequality. Poets in Revolt! began as a workshop led by Ola Faleti at 826 Chicago during which students drew meaningful connections between poetry and social justice. The theme echoed topics students have been exploring across the 826 network in recent years and is an important document of this moment in youth voice and activism.
 

Studio Usher secures Internet access for 5 million virtual students

In 2013, Naomi Usher, Principal of Studio Usher, received an ITM grant to develop communication materials in print, digital, and motion for EducationSuperHighway—an organization providing advocacy and consultation to states and school districts in order to connect American public school classrooms to high-speed Internet. The organization worked to bring broadband to 99% of all K-12 public schools. The project had been slated to shut down in April 2020 as their mission was accomplished.
 
But in the face of COVID-19, with 55 million K-12 students sheltering in place and schools moving their classrooms online, this dynamic organization hired back most of their staff to focus on connecting the 5 million students in the US who do not have access to the Internet at home.
 

Studio Usher secures Internet access for 5 million virtual students

In 2013, Naomi Usher, Principal of Studio Usher, received an ITM grant to develop communication materials in print, digital, and motion for EducationSuperHighway—an organization providing advocacy and consultation to states and school districts in order to connect American public school classrooms to high-speed Internet. The organization worked to bring broadband to 99% of all K-12 public schools. The project had been slated to shut down in April 2020 as their mission was accomplished.
 
But in the face of COVID-19, with 55 million K-12 students sheltering in place and schools moving their classrooms online, this dynamic organization hired back most of their staff to focus on connecting the 5 million students in the US who do not have access to the Internet at home.
 

Design Museum Everywhere creates activities to keep sheltering families engaged

Design Museum Everywhere has won two ITM grants supporting outdoor playspaces and diversity and inclusion and works to break the barriers of traditional museums—meeting the public where they are to share design inspiration and insight.
 
The team has been jumping into action and adapting quickly. Designers can play an immediate role in supporting those on the front lines, so the Design Museum is helping connect frontline healthcare workers in hospitals and nursing homes with mass-produced, 3D-printed, and DIY personal protective equipment — which they desperately need.
 
And, understanding that there’s no better way for us all to connect right now than through creativity, their new online series, Design Together, is a catalog of design activities that families and friends can do together or on their own.
 

Design Museum Everywhere creates activities to keep sheltering families engaged

Design Museum Everywhere has won two ITM grants supporting outdoor playspaces and diversity and inclusion and works to break the barriers of traditional museums—meeting the public where they are to share design inspiration and insight.
 
The team has been jumping into action and adapting quickly. Designers can play an immediate role in supporting those on the front lines, so the Design Museum is helping connect frontline healthcare workers in hospitals and nursing homes with mass-produced, 3D-printed, and DIY personal protective equipment — which they desperately need.
 
And, understanding that there’s no better way for us all to connect right now than through creativity, their new online series, Design Together, is a catalog of design activities that families and friends can do together or on their own.
 

Brighter Bites delivers healthy options to food-insecure families

In 2018, Allyson Lack, Founder and Creative Director of the design studio Principal, received an ITM grant to design and produce a cookbook for stakeholders of the Houston-based nonprofit, Brighter Bites. Since its inception in 2012, Brighter Bites has provided more than 27,000,000 pounds of fresh produce and millions of nutrition education to more than 275,000 individuals in multiple cities across the country. They work with public schools and community centers to assemble and distribute fruits and vegetables and materials to families in need. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, when personal resources are limited, families need fresh, nutrient-rich food to keep them healthy. Since their partner schools are closed, Brighter Bites has quickly shifted gears to deliver produce through a variety of programs and networks, including local food banks, produce distributors, and partnerships with regional grocery chains.
 

Brighter Bites delivers healthy options to food-insecure families

In 2018, Allyson Lack, Founder and Creative Director of the design studio Principal, received an ITM grant to design and produce a cookbook for stakeholders of the Houston-based nonprofit, Brighter Bites. Since its inception in 2012, Brighter Bites has provided more than 27,000,000 pounds of fresh produce and millions of nutrition education to more than 275,000 individuals in multiple cities across the country. They work with public schools and community centers to assemble and distribute fruits and vegetables and materials to families in need. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, when personal resources are limited, families need fresh, nutrient-rich food to keep them healthy. Since their partner schools are closed, Brighter Bites has quickly shifted gears to deliver produce through a variety of programs and networks, including local food banks, produce distributors, and partnerships with regional grocery chains.
 

Made by We supports sustainable farmers during COVID-19

As one of the 20th anniversary Ideas that Matter grantees, Made by We—Liz Rose Chmela’s design studio—received a grant to support Farm Commons, an online community and platform filled with legal resources and tutorials for the sustainability-minded farmer. Made by We developed an all-in-one workbook with hands-on materials for both new and experienced farmers to help them become more comfortable with farm law. The workbook and kit paired in-depth information with hands-on learning techniques and serves as a physical reference for Farmers.

As the danger of COVID-19 became a reality, Made by We was able to quickly add a new section to the Farm Commons website. The nonprofit is now releasing COVID-19 resources for free on a regular basis, including everything from webinars to podcasts and other advice for farmers trying to understand their legal and financial options during the pandemic. By quickly and creatively pivoting their model, Farm Commons has been able to continue supporting the farmers who rely on them for resources, services, and most importantly, community.
 

Made by We supports sustainable farmers during COVID-19

As one of the 20th anniversary Ideas that Matter grantees, Made by We—Liz Rose Chmela’s design studio—received a grant to support Farm Commons, an online community and platform filled with legal resources and tutorials for the sustainability-minded farmer. Made by We developed an all-in-one workbook with hands-on materials for both new and experienced farmers to help them become more comfortable with farm law. The workbook and kit paired in-depth information with hands-on learning techniques and serves as a physical reference for Farmers.

As the danger of COVID-19 became a reality, Made by We was able to quickly add a new section to the Farm Commons website. The nonprofit is now releasing COVID-19 resources for free on a regular basis, including everything from webinars to podcasts and other advice for farmers trying to understand their legal and financial options during the pandemic. By quickly and creatively pivoting their model, Farm Commons has been able to continue supporting the farmers who rely on them for resources, services, and most importantly, community.
 

Interfaith Task Force On Homelessness helps displaced individuals keep their vehicles

Recent ITM grant recipients, Karen Cheng and Selina Nguyen from the University of Washington Division of Design have been working with the Interfaith Task Force on Homelessness (ITFH) on a safety guide for displaced individuals in Seattle that are forced to live in their vehicles.

Since the onset of COVID-19, the design has been updated based on input from outreach workers and city officials that provide resources to this community. The brochure is now a brightly colored pocket-sized pamphlet so that those living in their vehicles can more easily locate it among their belongings. The design team has also added more information on court resources for low-income individuals, including how to ask for the court for reduced fines, and how to legally park in Seattle to avoid tickets and vehicle impoundment.

Interfaith Task Force On Homelessness helps displaced individuals keep their vehicles

Recent ITM grant recipients, Karen Cheng and Selina Nguyen from the University of Washington Division of Design have been working with the Interfaith Task Force on Homelessness (ITFH) on a safety guide for displaced individuals in Seattle that are forced to live in their vehicles.

Since the onset of COVID-19, the design has been updated based on input from outreach workers and city officials that provide resources to this community. The brochure is now a brightly colored pocket-sized pamphlet so that those living in their vehicles can more easily locate it among their belongings. The design team has also added more information on court resources for low-income individuals, including how to ask for the court for reduced fines, and how to legally park in Seattle to avoid tickets and vehicle impoundment.