Nurturing Creative Minds to Design the Future of Our World

Through a match program, Harvard Graduate School of Design donors help expand opportunities for talented students to make a difference at Harvard and beyond

Nurturing Creative Minds to Design the Future of Our World


Nurturing Creative Minds to Design the Future of Our World


Design impacts every aspect of our lives. From creating equitable housing to expanding access to green spaces to reimagining the future of our cities, graduates of the Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD) drive innovations that help build a more resilient, just, and beautiful world.

With the GSD Future Design Leaders Match program as a catalyst, more than 40 alumni and friends have established fellowships, breaking down financial barriers and democratizing design education for all students.

Increasing financial aid is a top priority for Sarah M. Whiting, dean of the GSD and Josep Lluís Sert Professor of Architecture, who was inspired to allocate dean’s discretionary funds to create a program that would provide a one-to-one match for donor contributions. Endowed fellowships support students during their education at the GSD, and the impact of each fellowship expands as it grows in perpetuity in the University’s endowment.

“Our students learn to reach outward—to each other, individuals, communities, and leaders across an array of industries,” says Whiting. “Growing endowed support through the Future Design Leaders Match provides our students with more financial flexibility after graduation to help continue this foundation, challenging the critical social issues of our time, and consequently changing the design horizon itself.”

Alumni from across Harvard saw the potential of the program to amplify their philanthropic impact. Through their match gift, Peter Coombe MArch ’99 and Betty Chen AB ’87 established the Graduate School of Design Alumni Council Fellowship Fund to bolster involvement between the GSD and the world.

“Betty and I wholeheartedly support Dean Whiting’s admirable goal to make the GSD financially accessible to all, while honoring the legacy of the GSD’s Alumni Council,” says Coombe. “We hope this fund will inspire others in our community to actively support student financial aid.”

Whiting aims to inspire students to continue cultivating engagement between their design disciplines and the larger world after graduation.

“The core of a GSD design education is when the uniqueness and value of our individual perspectives and experiences come together,” Whiting says. “Expanding the range of voices is critical to both the current and future of the design professions.”

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Future Design Leaders Match: By the Numbers

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36 donors contributed, unlocking matching funds to raise more than $8.5M in total.

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45 alumni from across the University, including 19 GSD alumni, supported the match.

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Nearly 20% of match gifts came from donors outside the United States.