In the immediate wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, we saw designers of all stripes step up in myriad ways. We also saw innumerable designers lose jobs, as projects and funding was put on hold–sometimes temporarily, but many other times permanently.

Among the most hopeful efforts in this surreal time has been the rapid formation of Artist Relief, a national, multidisciplinary coalition between the Academy of American Poets, Artadia, Creative Capital, Foundation for Contemporary Arts, MAP Fund, National YoungArts Foundation, and United States Artists.

These visionary organizations joined forces to provide emergency $5,000 grants and information resources to artists in this time of great need.

Artist Relief’s discipline-specific Field Partners, which also includes CERF+, The Artists Safety Net, and Sundance Institute, are integral to scaling the coalition’s efforts during this unprecedented emergency. The Design Vanguard is now proud to be among them.

Design Vanguard co-founder Jocelyn Wyatt, CEO of, adds, “Partnering with Artist Relief gives us the opportunity to help direct much-needed support to designers who are bringing creative solutions to some of the toughest challenges our society faces today.” 

Artist Relief launched on April 8, 2020 with $10 million, consisting of $5 million in seed funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, matched with $5 million in initial contributions from an array of foundations across the United States listed here. Its Field Partner program appears alongside a sustained fundraising campaign designed to continually expand the coalition’s impact. 

In the four months since launch, Artist Relief has distributed 2,400 grants, at an average rate of 100 per week, with $535,000 spent to support 107 designers to date.

“We’re elated to welcome The Design Vanguard as an Artist Relief Field Partner. Over the last four months, we have witnessed the immeasurable toll COVID-19 has had on designers across the country and we are grateful to have The Design Vanguard’s leadership and support as we work to support as many design practitioners as possible. As everything has changed drastically, we need fierce advocates for designers given the exponential power of design to create a more sustainable and just world,” said Carolyn Ramo, Executive Director of Artadia, a coalition member of Artist Relief.

Since opening applications, Artist Relief has been met with an overwhelming response from the country’s artists. As expected, applications for the $5,000 emergency grant have dramatically outpaced Artist Relief’s resources. As such, Artist Relief is continuing to fundraise, relying on the support of a growing number of foundations and individual donors, and will continue to evolve as the needs of the country’s artists shift over the coming months.

Tax-deductible donations can be made at; 100% of donations will be applied directly to aid.

For more information, visit


John Cary is a Co-founder of The Design Vanguard and the author of Design for Good: A New Era of Architecture for Everyone


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