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    About the Foundation

    The mission of the Sara Little Turnbull Foundation is to further the advancement of underrepresented youth in design education and women in professional communities of design practice and leadership. The Foundation also
    promotes public awareness of design at the intersection of business, culture, and education.

    Sara Little Turnbull, a trail blazing designer and design consultant, operated at the nexus of design, culture, commerce, and education during the second half of the 20th Century. She described her practice as “applied cultural anthropology.”

    Sara Little Turnbull created a Foundation Trust as a vehicle to continue her work and to reflect her love of design education at the intersection of business and culture. The Trust was formally created in 2015 and officially launched in 2018 with a mission to serve Sara Little Turnbull’s legacy and vision.

    The vision of Sara Little Turnbull is difficult to define: innovative, anthropological, observational, inter-disciplinary, consumer focused, but without any fixed methodology. Her legacy is easier: a long list of innovative products, successful corporations and CEOs, inspired Stanford University graduates, and the dedication of her close friends and mentees who have been charged with sharing her stories and continuing her legacy.

    About Sara

    Grants and Awards

    The Sara Little Turnbull Foundation awards grants to organizations who share in our mission to further the advancement of underrepresented youth in design education and women in professional communities of design practice and leadership. At this time, the Foundation reviews proposals on a by-invitation-only basis.

    Parsons Scholars

    The Foundation continues to support the Parsons Scholars Program (PSP) with a $25,000 gift. The core of Parsons Scholars programming focuses on helping young people of color from New York City high schools discover ways their art and design skills can support and build communities, leverage social change, and lead toward vibrant, creative futures. Using a close mentorship model, the Parsons Scholars Program creates a college-going culture for youth and their families and helps prepare them for future studies at competitive colleges and universities. Learn more.

    The Furniture Society

    The Furniture Society was awarded a $27,500 grant to support Craft for a Greater Good Local Resident Fellows who build coalitions among creative and community partners to engage youth and community members in a purposeful project, working with design and craft professionals. The two-year partnership with UNC Asheville’s STEAM studios and BeLoved Asheville enabled TFS to continue to offer opportunities for underrepresented youth in design education to experience the power of creative problem solving.

    Beginning in 2023, TFS will partner with YAYA, an organization serving New-Orleans area children and youth, to teach furniture making skills and to make a difference in the community where the youth live. Learn more.

    Manitoga: Russel Wright Design Center

    The Foundation continues to support the interpretation of the award-winning Russel & Mary Wright Design Gallery and the Art + Design Residency program with a $25,000 grant. The permanent gallery exhibits the Wright’s groundbreaking designs for the American home and highlights Mary’s central role in their design practice and business partnership. The annual Art + Design Residency program invites artists and designers from diverse disciplines to respond to the power of place and inspires audiences to encounter architecture, design and nature through immersive, multi-sensory experiences. Learn more.

    Lehman College

    The Sara Little Turnbull Design Initiative was awarded $50,000 to support visiting designer speaker series, courses, and exhibitions to engage more women and minority groups in design education and career opportunities. Fall ’22 programs, Abya Yala: Structural Origins: The New York Latin American Art Triennial, explored the intersection of African, European, and Indigenous Culture in the cycles of history across the Americas. During Spring ’23, Queer Love: Images of Romance and Affection will explore LGBTQ+ aesthetics and sensibilities across the field of arts and design. Learn more.

    Smith College

    The Design Thinking Initiative at Smith College was awarded $25,000 in support of students in the Collaborative Leadership and Design Immersion program. This experience prepares and then embeds students in summer internships around the world where they practice collaborative leadership and human-centered design in the context of a local organization and help lead the advancement of socially, economically, and environmentally healthy communities. This past summer’s cohort applied their newfound design and leadership skills and in turn grew by leaps and bounds at organizations in Kenya, Costa Rica, Spain, Colombia, and St. Louis, MO. Learn more.

    Tiny WPA

    Tiny WPA was awarded a $10,000 grant to continue its Sara Little Turnbull Fellowship for a woman or a non-binary person of color who is early in their career and is curious, driven and passionate about design and design education. The fellow joined Tiny WPA’s team as an in-house designer for a part-time 4-month period and contributed to the organization’s many community-driven design-build projects.

    In the image, the Tiny WPA fellow is working with children at the McVeigh Recreation Center in Philadelphia, installing improvements to the Rec Center’s public pool. The improvements were part of the City of Philadelphia’s larger Swim Philly initiative in 2022. Learn more.


    The Sara Little Turnbull Visiting Designer Speakers Series at Lehman College
    Event Flyer
    Spring 2021

    The Sara Little Turnbull Visiting Designer Speakers Series at Lehman College
    Event Flyer
    Fall 2020

    Smith College Design Immersion Fellowship Presentation

    November 11, 2019

    Gift Presentation to the University of Washington

    November 06, 2018

    The University of Washington College of Arts & Sciences and the Office of Minority Affairs & Diversity (OMA&D) announced that the Sara Little Turnbull Foundation has made a $200,000 gift to benefit underrepresented minority, low-income and first-generation students pursuing design degrees within the School of Art + Art History + Design . The gift will be used to establish the Sara Little Turnbull Foundation Endowed Scholarship in Design, providing financial assistance to undergraduate students who are affiliated with OMA&D’s Educational Opportunity Program (EOP). This gift is one of two inaugural gifts by the foundation.

    The University of Washington is accepting contributions to the Sara Little Turnbull Foundation Endowed Scholarship in Design. Show your support.

    Gift presentation to The New School’s Parsons School of Design

    October 04, 2018

    Presentation of the inaugural gift from the Sara Little Turnbull Foundation to The New School’s Parsons School of Design. A $200,000 gift was given to advance the university’s Parsons Scholars Program, a free
    multi-year, need-based college preparatory program designed to remove social and financial barriers that prevent motivated teens from pursuing education and careers in art and design.



    For more information about the Sara Little Turnbull Foundation, contact us:


    Phone: 914 482 1337