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ASID Foundation Announces 2021 Research Grants Recipients

Spotlighting the critical role of design and its impact on the human experience, the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) Foundation has announced the recipients of its 2021 Transform Research Grants.

The ASID Foundation Grants provide essential funding to address critical gaps in industry knowledge, advance design understanding, and transform the practice of interior design to improve lives. The 2021 grant sought research that activated diversity, equity, and inclusion in design solutions, and was made possible by the generous support of the Donghia Foundation. With recipients centered on promoting inclusivity and mental wellbeing in the world of education, the ASID Foundation’s 2021 grants will empower designers to create safe education settings grounded in research-based solutions for all student communities. 
“Research is absolutely vital to the design profession,” comments ASID Foundation Chair Toni Gocke Wyre, FASID, LEED AP, WELL AP, Assoc. AIA. “Through increased focus on diversity, equity and inclusion, we are well-positioned to analyze and offer solutions for the built environment.  These issues live at the intersection of choice and flexibility, the mantra of inclusive design for decades.  The time is now to expand our understanding of marginalized communities and deliver interior projects that promote social, physical, emotional and mental wellbeing.”  

The awardees proposed exemplary solutions, innovation and measurable results on the impact of design. Both aimed to bring awareness to design practices that can aid educational communities in bettering the wellbeing of our youth and their schools. 
The 2021 awardees of the ASID Transform Research Grants are: 
Equitable & Enriched Environments to Uplift: Impacts of School Design on Wellbeing, First-Gen College Readiness, and Social and Emotional Learning ($70K Award) 

PI: Dr. Renae Mantooth, Education Sector Design Researcher, CADRE/HKS

This pre-/post mixed methods study will investigate how the move of a predominantly Hispanic serving Pre-K-12 school from a dense urban setting devoid of green, open space to a new location with an open green quad and enriched interior affordances transform wellbeing, academic outcomes, and college-readiness for at-risk and first-gen students. 

“I am so excited to bring together educators, researchers, and designers on this project to investigate big questions around how the design of the built environment contributes to equitable student enrichment,” Mantooth comments. “Through these funds, we will investigate the impact design has on student outcomes and engage teachers to develop a design framework that establishes strategies to cultivate social and emotional learning in K-12 education that is responsive to all learners.”

This project is administered through the Center for Advanced Design Research and Evaluation (CADRE), in collaboration with HKS and Uplift Education. 

K-12 Schools Trauma-Informed Design Evaluation Tool Development (for and by designers and educators) ($30K Award) 

PI: Dr. J. Davis Harte, Director and Faculty of Design for Human Health, Boston Architectural College

This project aims to develop an interior-focused trauma-informed design evaluation tool for K-12 schools (K12TiDEval) to help heal trauma, with insider perspective on youth behaviors and triggers, coupled with interior design evidence and perspective.
“Trauma-informed Design (TiD) practices are helping survivors of trauma, including our youngest people,” states Harte. “Environments can lower stress levels, which helps students better regulate emotions, control behaviors, and access educational opportunities. We aim to develop this tool, created by and for designers and educators, to incorporate TiD principles in schools. Thank you to the ASID and Donghia Foundations for the opportunity to improve the lives of our children and youth through Trauma-informed Design.”

Along with Dr. J. Davis Harte, the research group also includes Janet Roche, MDS, Christine Cowart (Cowart Trauma-Informed Partnership), Molly Pierce, Pediatric Occupational Therapist, David O’Coimin (Nook Pods), Laura Shook Guzman, LMFT.
The ASID Foundation Research Committee selected the winning projects based on a range of qualifications, including the significance of the study, innovativeness of research questions, strength of research methods, applicability of research findings, and more. Scores from the committee* were aggregated and analyzed to determine the top three proposals for each grant type and then were discussed in detail. The Foundation Board of Trustees reviewed the award recommendations and approved the awards.

“The 2021 grant recipients embody the very spirit of diversity, equity, and inclusion - their proposals seek to elevate the voices of underrepresented students and to create a body of research and data that will inform and enhance the way we practice and design,” concludes Wyre. “I extend my heartfelt congratulations to our grantees and look forward to seeing the outcomes of their research.”
This year’s committee members include: Sally Augustin, Ph.D. – Principal, Design With Science; Lisa Henry, FASID, Allied AIA – CEO, Greenway Group; Denise Rush, FASID – Dean and Faculty, Boston Architectural College, School of Interior Architecture; Kay Sargent, FASID, LEED AP, MCR.w, WELL AP – Senior Principal and Director of Workplace, HOK.  
To review the winning projects, visit

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