Designers Available: A New Model for Pro Bono Design
Hello, Designers Available community!
Happy spring! I’m writing to share with you some exciting updates on how Designers Available is growing and aiming to provide a new model for design and social justice.
In 2019, Designers Available will move to a member-supported model that would allow for designers from underrepresented backgrounds working on projects with non-profits to get paid for their work at no cost to the organization. In addition to a regular offering of pro-bono projects open to the whole community, we will implement quarterly project cycles, accepting applications from both organizations and designers, in which we’ll facilitate 2-3 larger projects per cycle and offer a stipend to designers.
Let’s reframe the Designers Available network (that’s you!) as a cooperative, a community which is experimenting with a radical idea of the relationship between design and social justice, one which centers those most affected by social justice issues and believes in redistribution of resources and access.
I aim to pay designers from underrepresented backgrounds to do design work to support issues that are close to them with non-profits and grassroots organizations. In addition to supporting non-profits and grassroots organization, a mission of this work is to uplift designers of color, those from low-income and working-class backgrounds, immigrants and those with precarious immigration statuses in the US, queer, trans and gender non-conforming designers, and disabled designers. I believe that those who are most affected by the social justice issues that organizations support are uniquely positioned to address these issues.
If every member of our community was able to contribute $1.84 every month, we’d meet our fundraising goal of $2400 and be able to support up to 12 projects in 2019. For designers with access and privilege, this is an opportunity to address issues of inequity and underrepresentation of designers from underrepresented backgrounds, as well as consider the who, how, and why of how social impact design projects are facilitated in an innovative way. Designers Available will continue to support ad-hoc pro bono design projects, shared with the network via monthly newsletter and available to any designer.
I am really excited about these shifts and believe they are moving Designers Available in a direction that will sustain this work and serve as a model for responsible relationships between the design community and those engaged in social justice work. I am eager to hear what you think and I’m so grateful to be able to share this work with you all.
Joelle | @okayjoelle | firstname.lastname@example.org
It’s been a while since I’ve reached out so I wanted to send this quick reminder on what is Designers Available and who is Joelle?!
Designers Available was founded by me, Joelle Riffle, in November 2016 as a platform through which designers committed to dedicated their creative and strategic skills in support of organizations doing direct advocacy and activism work. Over the past nineteen months, my favorite part of this work has been building community and getting to know people invested in this work, and growing and learning and expanding the limitations of what this thing can be. We’ve completed (at least) four major projects, which you can see on the website at designersavailable.com.
I’m Joelle, the founder and lead of D/A. I field requests for design support from organizations, match designers with organizations, oversee projects through completion, manage the community (that’s you all!), and generally organize the operations and resources for this whole thing. D/A is a big volunteer project for me that I do on nights and weekends in addition to my full time role at the Parsons Scholars Program, a three-year art and design college access program for NYC public high school students and my independent design practice. You can @ me anytime at @okayjoelle on twitter or instagram.