Three graduates of the MFA Design Department have been awarded a grant by Sappi Fine Paper’s Ideas that Matter program, an annual honor that harnesses designers’ creativity for social good. Irina Lee (MFA 2010 Design), Ashley Stevens (MFA 2010 Design) and Lara McCormick (MFA 2007 Design) are among just 27 recipients this year, with projects representing a vast array of social, cultural and environmental issues.

The Ideas that Matter program recognizes designers who have partnered with a philanthropic organization to develop proposals including campaign concepts, business plans, objectives, costs and possible benefits. Irina Lee received a grant to work with The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation based on her thesis project First Person American. Lara McCormick is working with Build it Green!, New York City’s only nonprofit retail outlet for salvaged and surplus building materials. And Ashley Stevens was selected to work with The Jed Foundation, the nation’s leading organization working to reduce emotional distress and prevent suicide among college students, based on her thesis project The Ah Project: Finding Acceptance in Mental Illness.

This year’s winners join five additional alumni of the MFA Design Department to have earned a Sappi grant in previous competitions, including Masood Ahmed (MFA 2007 Design), Bobby Martin (MFA 2003 Design), Julie Tinker (MFA 2007 Design), Anne Van Wagener (MFA 2008 Design) and Amy Wang (MFA 2006 Design). This was the second grant for Lara McCormick, who in 2008 created a public education campaign for the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) called Hope, Help & Healing: Personal Stories of Recovery, based on her SVA thesis project. The campaign brought posters, brochures and one-sheets to rehab centers, colleges and businesses around the country through a network of 100 NCADD offices.

Entries were judged based on creativity, potential impact and implementation plan by an independent panel of top graphic designers from across the U.S. including Casey Caplowe of GOOD, Jessica Helfand of Winterhouse, Doug Powell of Schwartz Powell, Matt Rollins of Iconologic, and Armin Vit of UnderConsideration.

School of Visual Arts (SVA) in New York City is an established leader and innovator in the education of artists. From its inception in 1947, the faculty has been comprised of professionals working in the arts and art-related fields. SVA provides an environment that nurtures creativity, inventiveness and experimentation, enabling students to develop a strong sense of identity and a clear direction of purpose.

Image: Irina Lee, FirstPersonAmerican.org

For more information, please contact the School of Visual Arts at proffice@sva.edu or 212.592.2010.

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