AIGA is the nation’s largest professional design organization in the U.S. and also the oldest, having been established as the American Institute of Graphic Arts in 1914. As technology has rapidly changed the design industry over the past 100+ years, their name has since been simplified to just AIGA (pronounced A-I-G-A), the professional association for design.

As we were planning this project tour throughout the Summer, Fall, and Winter of 2016, we applied in for AIGA Innovate in Spring 2017, a fund of $1 million to be awarded to support and empower AIGA members and chapters to utilize the power of design to generate impact within communities over a four-year time span.

We’re excited to announce that [HAS HEART] will be awarded $50K grant throughout the 50 States project. These funds will directly be utilized to pay the Veteran and AIGA artist members in each state project (NOTE: In addition to this payment, the Veteran will continue to receive 25% of the proceeds generated from product sales of their design).

As mentioned in a recent blogpost, “Planning the Impossible,” our project would simply not be possible without AIGA. In fact, not only this tour, but the future mission of our HERO[series] projects have been modeled and built around the potential of this partnership with AIGA, its 70+ chapters across the country, and their 25,000+ creative-minded members. As a small nonprofit organization, [HAS HEART] views ourself as the connection point for a cross-cultural exchange between a Veteran and a designer, so having the largest organization for design is more than ideal, it’s necessary for this tour (and beyond).

[HAS HEART] has been gradually working towards building a partnership with AIGA for the past few years having started with a project with AIGA West Michigan (my home chapter!) for our 2015 HERO[series], and then the first mobile-test of the project with AIGA Detroit for our 2016 HERO[series] project. (You can go back and learn more about the evolution of the HERO[series] since its initial inspiration from meeting a quadriplegic Veteran in 2011 in the blogpost: Our Story – Part III).

While we were in NYC for our New York state project, we had the opportunity to visit the AIGA headquarters to meet the people behind the organization that we had been emailing, calling, and webcasting with for the first time in person. Here are a few images of their beautiful office space within the historic Woolworth Building, just a few blocks walk from the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum in which we hosted our NY project: