The IMPACT Award

The IMPACT Award

$25,000 for Excellence in Social or Environmental Impact through the Lens of Art & Design

The IMPACT Award is a CCA-wide competition, awarding the top two individuals or teams with $25,000 and a network of resources to complete an innovative project cultivating social and/or environmental responsibility.
The California College of the Arts prepares its graduates to be the next generation of socially responsible cultural leaders. The school functions as an incubator for artists, designers, and scholars, who learn from internationally renowned faculty and a rich landscape of community and technology partners working at the intersection of creativity and social innovation. Given the unique setting in the San Francisco Bay Area—the hub of global innovation—the academic experience is like no other, inspiring students to research, create and innovate with the potential to shape the world around them.
The annual IMPACT Award leverages the passion, creativity, and ingenuity of artists and designers in the field of sustainability and social impact. Each year, the IMPACT Award focuses on a specific concept addressing a pressing social or environmental challenge. The award also provides a network of resources and partnerships to outstanding CCA-based individuals or teams to enable them to complete a project of lasting environmental or social impact over the course of one year.
The 2018 IMPACT Awards are generously supported by Thurlow Washam, Werner & Eveline Schnorf, and the IMPACT Fund.
All students, faculty, alumni, and staff in all media are invited to submit proposals (all teams must include at least one team member who is a current CCA student during the 2017-18 academic year).


    FRIDAY, APRIL 20, by 11:59pm

Project Poster is required!

    (submit via Google Forms)


    Thursday, May 3, 4:30-6:30pm, Nave Alcove

CCA San Francisco Campus

Announcement of the $25,000 Award Winners

and Exhibition of the IMPACT AWARD Proposals



Chuck Collins

Charles M. Collins is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the YMCA of San Francisco. The YMCA offers dozens of programs and services for over 183,000 children and adults in San Francisco, San Mateo, and Marin counties. From 2002 to 2004, Mr. Collins served as the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Family Service Agency of San Francisco (FSA/SF). From 1983 to 2002, Mr. Collins was President and Chairman of WDG Ventures, Inc., and its affiliated companies which are engaged in the investment and development of commercial and residential real estate. In February 2012, Mr. Collins was appointed by Mayor Edwin Lee to the San Francisco Arts Commission. He also is Chairman Emeritus of the San Francisco Art Institute and former Senior Vice Chairman of the National Urban League. He is a board member of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, where he serves on the Executive Committee and chairs the Governance Committee. Mr. Collins received his Bachelor of Arts with honors from Williams College, his Master of City Planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and his Juris Doctor from the Harvard Law School.

Lydia So

Lydia So is the founder of SOLYD, a full service architectural, management and design collaborative. SOLYD develops technology platform solutions alongside traditional design services. Powered by its extensive knowledge and network of building design experts, it provides project management and architectural design services for homeowners and commercial clients including office, retail, healthcare, and wellness facilities. Prior to founding SOLYD, Ms. So held a design management position at Apple, and also worked for nine years as an Associate at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, honing her design skills and trailblazing the technical aspects of architecture practice, which historically has been dominated by men. She practiced architectural design under Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, and her global experience includes designing some of the world’s tallest buildings, the most advanced life science buildings, and the world’s first all glass spiral staircase.

Maria Jenson

Maria Jenson is the Executive Director of SOMArts Cultural Center. Prior to joining SOMArts, Maria was a key member of the External Relations team managing the reopening of SFMOMA following the museum’s $300 million dollar expansion. At SFMOMA, she worked across departments and built innovative community partnerships as the museum’s cultural and civic ambassador. Ms. Jenson was the Founding Director of ArtPadSF—an independent art fair that transformed the Phoenix Hotel into an immersive and interactive platform to engage Bay Area artists, gallerists and art lovers. A student of dance, theater and screenwriting for many years, Ms. Jenson has produced and directed live theater in Los Angeles, and launched and directed Salon Oblique in Venice, CA, a boutique art salon and gallery. Salon Oblique, like ArtPadSF, worked with performance, video, installation, and traditional media to create unique and theatrical events. She is active with the Arts for a Better Bay Area (ABBA) coalition and works with her colleagues at other major arts organizations in the region on education, advocacy and inclusion issues as they relate to arts, economic and community-building public endeavors.

Neal J. Schwartz

Schwartz and Architecture, established by Principal Neal J. Z. Schwartz in 1997, has received wide-ranging recognition including features in the New York Times, Dwell, and Wallpaper* Magazine, as well as numerous national and regional awards for design excellence.  Mr. Schwartz holds dual master’s degrees in Architecture and Public Policy from the Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design and the Kennedy School of Government respectively. In 2015, he initiated and chaired a joint AIASF | SF Planning Working Group to advocate for change to residential design review procedures in San Francisco.  He is currently the Chair of a newly-established AIASF Public Policy & Advocacy Committee. Mr. Schwartz has been actively involved in teaching for 25 years, most recently as an Associate Professor in Architecture Studies at the California College of the Arts (CCA), where he currently coordinates the master’s degree housing studio.  He graduated Magna Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa from Brandeis University, receiving a Bachelor of Arts in European history, and has studied and researched abroad in Vienna, Munich, and Berlin.

Vallie Brown

Vallie Brown is a Project Manager of the City and County of San Francisco Office of Economic Workforce and Development/Joint Development, specializing in developing affordable housing for residents of the City of San Francisco. She formerly served as legislative aide to Supervisor and former Interim Mayor London Breed. Ms. Brown studied Environmental Studies and Art at the University of California, Los Angeles, and Communication and Media Studies at the University of Utah.


IMPACT AWARD Information Sessions









HOME: Creative Thinking in Affordable and Sustainable Living Environments for Artists & Designers

The “HOME” concept is very open to interpretation, for example:
  • innovative architectural templates for group live/workspace for creatives
  • industrial design projects/fixtures/structures from recycled materials 
  • using hemp, pineapple or lotus fiber textiles
  • solar or low-energy lighting solutions 
  • housing infrastructure for efficiencies
  • furnishings that use recycled materials
  • recycled glass dishwares or lighting 
  • innovative platforms or materials for visual/fine art
  • ceramic products using recycled ceramic materials
  • creative murals/photographic walls
  • eco-friendly interior design 
  • robotic or internet-of-things products that support efficiencies
  • short film/animation series promoting sustainable living practices
  • a book, magazine or article series on this subject
  • systems or resource information networks (e.g., a website) for sustainability

…essentially anything that fosters or could be part of the affordable, sustainable dwelling of the future. For inspiration and ideas, see CCA’s award-winning Refract House, co-designed by CCA students, where all of the exterior and interior elements of a dwelling—the architecture, insulation, landscaping, energy systems, lighting fixtures from recycled materials, ceramic dinnerware, glassware, and more— were designed to be sustainable or utilized sustainable materials.

Projects must be designed, produced, and implemented in the Bay Area over the one-year grant period, and have lasting environmental or social impact beyond the grant period.  Applicants have the opportunity to participate in design thinking and community engagement workshops crafted to assist them in developing and strengthening their project proposals before the submission deadline.
To learn more, please save the date for the information sessions and register for the Design Blitz and Community Engagement Skills Workshop at the links in the timeline above.
The Center also has developed a partnership with the City of San Francisco’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development to establish architectural templates and utilize art/design based sustainable products created through the 2018 IMPACT Award competition for potential future Artist Affordable Housing and Workspace sites in the City of San Francisco. Other resource partners include the City of San Francisco Planning Department, Institute for the Future, Soup, the Workshop Residence, and the San Francisco Housing Action Coalition.
CCA-based artists, designers, and creative teams from all disciplines and fields (including CCA alumni, faculty, and staff) are invited to apply.  CCA faculty, alumni, and staff applicants must include at least one team member who is a current CCA student during the 2017-18 academic year.


The strongest projects will:

— identify a need or issue related to or addressing the topic:

HOME: Creative Thinking in Affordable and Sustainable Living Environments

for Artists & Designers

— Pursue an innovative, creative solution that includes a proposed plan of research/collaboration with their users/community on its effectiveness (for some tips, see the COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT powerpoint, above)

— Create a solution that has long-lasting impact beyond the grant period and logical metrics/measures for its success

Proposals in ALL media encouraged! Questions? Write



Complete your IMPACT proposal by FRIDAY, April 20, 2018 in Google Forms:

Proposal :