2023 Architecture + Design Independent Projects Grants

A competitive grant program in partnership with the New York State Council on the Arts.

The Architecture + Design Independent Projects grant program is a partnership between the New York State Council on the Arts and The Architectural League of New York, awarding grants for New York State-based individuals and teams to explore a design topic through creation or research.

For the 2023 cycle, this program will award 25 grants of $10,000 to proposals in design fields, including architecture, landscape architecture, historic preservation, community-centered design, fashion, graphic, industrial, and interior design.

Following a successful pilot year of partnership in 2022, the League and NYSCA are pleased to again partner to administer the Independent Projects program for all interested applicants. The League will directly receive all applications and, together with NYSCA, will convene a panel of experts in design who will evaluate submissions and select projects for funding. Read on for an overview of the program and requirements, and download the complete 2023 Program Guidelines for full information on general requirements, eligibility, and the application process.

Program goals

Design is everywhere. Recognizing design as an art form that can enhance our quality of life, the Independent Projects program seeks proposals that emphasize artistry and design excellence, that may contribute to a broader understanding of design, and/or that advance a design discipline. Critically, design must be at the core of any proposal, and the outcome must be accessible to the public. Projects might, for example, create a design prototype, advance new ideas in community design, research a topic in design or architectural history, or engage in critical or theoretical analysis.

For many years, both NYSCA and the League have supported diverse and creative explorations in design. Where can design go next? Through this partnership, we welcome proposals that seek to answer this question.

Key dates

April 17, 2023
Independent Projects guidelines are posted and the application portal opens.

June 16, 2023
Deadline for submissions. Application portal closes at 11:59 p.m. EDT.
Please note: Program staff will not be available to answer questions after 6:00 p.m. EDT.

July 2023
Review panel convenes and award decisions are made.

July–August 2023
Applicants are notified of panel decisions and grants are finalized.

September 1, 2023
Award period starts and project activity commences.

August 31, 2024
Award period ends and project activity concludes. Project leads prepare reports on work carried out during the award period.

Eligibility and funding restrictions

The Independent Projects program is open to individuals and teams based in New York State. Applicants must be professionals in their design field and the proposed work must be truly independent; work related to a course curriculum or degree program, commissioned work for a client, recreational activities, and out-of-state travel expenses are not eligible for funding. Current NYSCA and Architectural League staff are not eligible. Recipients of Independent Projects grants in 2022 are not eligible to apply in 2023.

Proposals must emphasize design and the ways that the creative process can make an impact on the topic or problem the applicant seeks to explore. Award funds may be used to compensate the artist’s or team’s time spent on project activities, as well as related project expenses, consumable materials, and travel expenses within New York State only. This is a competitive grant program and not all proposals will receive funding. Each successful proposal will be awarded $10,000.

Proof of New York State residency
Each applicant, and each team member, must have their primary residence within New York State at the time of submission and throughout the award period, if their proposal is selected for funding. Failure to adhere to this requirement will result in forfeiture of award funds.

Applicants whose proposals are selected for funding will be required to present two matching documents verifying New York State residency. The League and NYSCA reserve the right to request additional documentation, if necessary. A full list of acceptable documents can be found in the 2023 Program Guidelines.

Application components

Applicants will submit all materials through the program entry form on Award Force. A complete submission consists of the following components:

  • Certification of eligibility and New York State residency, for the applicant and all team members (note: you must certify New York State residency here and will be asked to show your proof of residency documents if your proposal is selected for funding).
  • Contact information and project overview.
  • A project narrative of up to 10,000 characters (including spaces) that responds to each of the six areas of the program prompt:
    1. Project Overview: Describe the project, emphasizing the role of design.
    2. Project Context: Provide specific context to show how this project builds on existing work in your design field, addresses a need, or tackles a topic or problem in the field in a new way. Discuss how the project will advance and contribute to its field.
    3. Project Lead or Team: Highlight the qualifications of the individual or team, demonstrating the necessary experience and qualifications to carry out this project.
    4. Project Activities: What work do you plan to do during the grant period (September 1, 2023–August 31, 2024)? If more than one person is involved, describe how the work will be delegated or coordinated.
    5. Project Budget: Please explain how you will spend the $10,000 award to execute this project. If your project necessitates more funding, where will that come from?
    6. Project Audience and Accessibility: Define the project’s intended audience and how this project will be made accessible to that audience during the award period. If the project’s impact will also extend beyond August 31, 2024, please describe.
  • Required supporting uploads:
    1. 1-page résumé or CV for each team member (1 combined PDF, maximum 10 MB)
    2. Visual, textual, or audio materials. Choose one of the below options that best serves your proposed project:
      • 1 PDF file of images and captions, maximum 12 pages
        • Applicants proposing a publication may devote up to 3 pages to sample or draft text, and up to 1 page to a publication outline, with remaining pages devoted to images. The total upload should not exceed 12 pages.
      • or 1 video clip, maximum 3 minutes long
      • or 1 audio clip, maximum 3 minutes long
  • Additional supporting details for projects that require commitment or permission from an outside authority, such as publications, installations, and exhibitions.

Evaluation criteria

Each proposal will be evaluated according to how fully it responds to the three program criteria: Impact and Creativity, Project Execution, and Audience and Accessibility. These criteria should inform every part of your materials. Successful submissions will make the case for a project that advances a new idea or creative approach to a problem in design; can realistically be accomplished during the grant period; utilizes the specific expertise of the individual or team; and presents a clear plan to reach and benefit the public of New York State.

Impact and Creativity
“Impact and Creativity” prioritizes support for innovative ideas that push a given design field forward and demonstrate the outcome of the creative process. In addressing this criterion, make sure your project is described clearly, providing details and avoiding jargon. It should be framed within your design field and demonstrate awareness of existing work or research that is relevant to your project area. If you are in a research or prototyping phase, make sure to describe the questions/approaches you will explore in 2023.

Project Execution
“Project Execution” asks you to demonstrate how you have designed your project to best use your own expertise. The strongest requests make clear that the applicants are specifically qualified to pursue this work, possess the relevant background experience, and have a viable plan to meet the stated goals within the award period. If the work proposed requires more than $10,000, requests should clearly show how these outside funds will be raised.

Audience and Accessibility
As NYSCA is a public funder, it is crucial that the work produced with these awards is accessible to public audiences in New York State. The “Audience and Accessibility” criterion requires that your project has a life outside of your office or studio. Clearly identify your target audience and describe a realistic plan and means to disseminate your proposed work. If the public dimension will occur outside of the award year (September 2023–August 2024), please explain.


The 2023 Architecture + Design Independent Projects Partnership is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.

More information

Please visit the Frequently Asked Questions page for this program to find answers to common questions.