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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.

    The Furniture Society

    The Furniture Society was awarded a $10,000 grant to support Craft for a Greater Good Local Resident Fellows. This gift enhances a current two-year grant as The Furniture Society demonstrated exceptional resiliency and creativity in its response to a global pandemic. Craft for a Greater Good takes shape at the intersection of business, culture, community, and education as Fellows build coalitions among creative and community partners to engage youth and community members in a purposeful project, working with design and craft professionals. This project positions craft and design as tools of empowerment and universal connection. 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 ’21 programs, The Eyes Have It, explored the power of visual imagery in a world dominated by screens, monitoring, and media. During Spring ’22, Eco-Urgency: Now or Never will explore climate change through the lens of design. Learn more.

    Manitoga: Russel Wright Design Center

    The Foundation supported the Russel & Mary Wright Design Gallery and Artist Residency program with a $25,000 grant. The permanent gallery exhibit opened in May and features over two hundred objects that tell the story of how the Wrights forged a modern American lifestyle through groundbreaking design for the home. The Artist Residency program invites artists from diverse disciplines to respond to the power of place and invite audiences to encounter architecture, design and nature through immersive, multi-sensory experiences. Learn more.

    Parsons School of Design

    The Foundation continues to support the Parsons Scholars Program with a $25,000 gift. The program is committed to bridging the gaps to college and careers by addressing economic and social challenges faced by young people of color. Students in grades 10 through 12 have benefited from the program’s year-round, comprehensive, and sequential offerings in art and design education while forming relationships within its connected community, a bond that lasts well beyond high school graduation. Learn more.

    Smith College

    The Design Thinking Initiative was awarded a $20,000 grant to support the Collaborative Leadership and Design Immersion program which they lead in partnership with the college’s Center for Leadership. Students from multiple academic backgrounds are given the opportunity to apply human-centered design methodologies and collaborative leadership skills in real-world settings. The program connects students with embedded, fully paid summer experiences around the world where they have a chance to practice collaborative change-making in the context of a local organization and help lead the advancement of socially, economically, and environmentally healthy communities. These design education experiences have proven invaluable in students’ trajectories. For example one of the beneficiary Immersion Students from 2021 is now the Human-Centered Design Fellow at the Design Initiative at Dartmouth. Learn more.

    Tiny WPA

    Tiny WPA was awarded a $10,000 grant to create the Sara Little Turnbull Fellowship for a woman of color who is curious, driven and passionate about design and design education. The fellow will join Tiny WPA for an intensive three-month period and become a part of Tiny WPA’s community, interacting with community partners, collaborators, schools, and neighbors. Emphasis will be placed on community-centered, collaborative design to address hyperlocal partner-identified need(s).
    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