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Public Access Design Fellowship

The Public Access Design (PAD) Fellowship is a yearlong professional development program for New York City-based emerging artists and designers. The Fellowship invites New York City-based emerging designers and artists to learn about community-engaged design alongside a cohort. Over the course of the year, Fellows attend six to seven meetings beginning January 2022. During these meetings, Fellows come together to learn about community-engaged design, anti-oppression practices, and community organizing.

In addition to the Fellowship meetings, three to four Fellows will have the opportunity to collaborate on a Public Access Design project. Public Access Design is a 4–6 month long collaboration of CUP staff, a designer (or design team), and an organization advocating for community change, resulting in the creation of a booklet that breaks down a complex policy issue.

How Does it Work?

Designers and artists respond to CUP's open call for the Public Access Design Fellowship.

A jury of designers and public policy experts use specified criteria to select 8–10 designers to be Public Access Design fellows. They also selected one to two fellows who will collaborate on the Public Access Design projects that will begin in January 2022.

This years's jury is:

We want to uplift designers who identify with communities that have been historically marginalized in the design professions. We encourage designers who identify with those groups to apply, including but not limited to people of color, people from low-income, LGBTQ+, immigrant communities, formerly incarcerated people, and others.

Note: CUP is actively monitoring and planning for how we can best keep designers and community partners safe during COVID. We will be in touch with fellows about whether or not meetings will take place in-person or remotely.

Learn more on the CUP website

Why Apply?

Reasons to Apply

  • The fellowship is an opportunity to learn from and build relationships with other emerging designers interested in contributing their design skills to community-engaged work.
  • During the fellowship you will learn about CUP’s community-engaged design practices and how you can apply it to your own design practice.
  • Fellows have the opportunity to meet previous CUP collaborators such as prominent designers, leaders in the advocacy world, and CUP alumni.
  • Through the fellowship meetings fellows gain a stronger understanding of how to collaborate with community organizations.
  • With each meeting, fellows can reflect on their design practice and the design community through an anti-racist, equity-driven lens.

Reflections from Previous Fellows

  • “It re-cemented the things that we want to do [with our design practice]. We are going to approach next year with new goals, new motivation, and new people.”
  • “I’ve always wanted to work with community organizations and have that be a big part of my work. Meeting with the alumni showed me how realistic, how big a part of social design can take up in my practice.”
  • “This fellowship helped me refocus my goals and my destination as a creative.”
  • “I appreciated being pushed to talk about privilege and different perspectives in life.”

Application Criteria

We seek skilled, emerging designers with an interest in  social justice and a collaborative, community-engaged design process. Because fellows will be considered for Public Access Design projects, fellows should be able to create original and inventive visual solutions to explain complex policy.

The jury will evaluate applicants based on the following criteria:

  • Does the designer show an ability to organize complex information?
  • Is the designer interested in a deeply collaborative process?
  • Does the designer seem capable of creative unique, relevant work that can meet the needs of community partners?
  • Can the designer incorporate illustration, photography, information design, or other non-typographic solutions into their work?

To learn more about each of these criteria, click here.

Note: Applicants don't need to have prior experience in social justice work or community-engaged design to be considered a strong candidate for the fellowship.


All Public Access Design fellows receive:

  • A $200 honorarium
  • Press and promotion from CUP

Fellows who collaborate on Public Access Design projects also receive:

  • An additional $4,000 honorarium
  • Full attribution and rights to reproduction for their work
  • Project publicity through CUP, including press releases, exhibit entries, and design award submissions

Application Timeline and Deadline

  • August 5, 2021 — Call for Public Access Design fellows opens!
  • August 25, 2021 — Optional webinar for designers applicants. 
  • September 20, 2021 at 12:00pm EST — Call closes (ORIGINAL DEADLINE of 9/13 EXTENDED!)
  • Late October 2021 — Jury meets to review applications and select finalists
  • Early November 2021 — CUP interviews finalists
  • Early December 2021 — CUP notifies selected applicants
  • January 2022 — Public Access Design fellows are announced!


Visit the FAQ section on our website OR email Pilar Finuccio at pilar@welcometocup.org.

Note: All applicants agree that CUP is granted the non-exclusive reproduction rights to all entries for CUP’s advertising, promotion, exhibition, print publication, and Internet purposes.

We use Submittable to accept and review our submissions.