Get Involved and Support These Architecture Nonprofits

In a profession as collaborative as architecture, it is crucial to raise awareness, give back, and get involved with the nonprofit organizations dedicated to making positive change. Such organizations dedicate their time, knowledge, work, and available resources to support and represent the individuals who make up the communities we serve. In no particular order, here are some architecture and design-related nonprofits you should consider learning more about, and hopefully, support.

While NCARB is also a nonprofit that relies on the dedicated efforts of hundreds of volunteers, we strive to give back to our communities by financially supporting* local and national organizations, as well as specific initiatives like the Freedom by Design™ and Canstruction programs.


ArchiteXX

Co-founded by Lori Brown and Nina Freedman, ArchiteXX is a nonprofit dedicated to not only raising awareness about gender equity within the profession, but also promoting and increasing diversity, intersectionality, and inclusion through open dialogues and content sharing opportunities. With a goal to inspire the next generation of architects to be “agents of change,” membership benefits include several resources and outreach events like mentorship meetings, writing support groups, monthly happy hours to exchange ideas about current issues, and more. Students who are interested in joining and require financial assistance can contact hello@architexx.org.

How to get involved/support


National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA)

NOMA champions diversity within the architecture profession by promoting the excellence, community engagement, and professional development of all of its members. Supported by nearly 1,400 volunteer members who contribute their time and resources, NOMA strives to build a strong national organization, strong chapters, and strong members for the purpose of minimizing the effect of racism embedded in the profession. Through its publications and conferences, the organization demonstrates that “minority professionals have the talent and capabilities to perform in design and construction with any other group.” Learn about NOMA’s Project Pipeline and additional programs.

How to get involved/support


400 Forward

Established in 2017 and named after the 400th living African American woman architect to become licensed, 400 Forward seeks to support the next generation of women architects, especially those who are Black or African American, through several exposure, mentorship, and financial assistance opportunities. This includes (and is not limited to) providing free architectural and art-related summer camps and workshops, connecting girls to mentors in cities across the nation, and supporting women in architecture with scholarships and financial assistance to cover the cost of the Architect Registration Examination® (ARE®).

How to get involved/support

  • Follow them on Twitter 
  • Contact 400 Forward and inquire about mentorship opportunities
  • Subscribe to their email list and share all offered resources to Black girls interested in becoming architects, as well as Black women already on the path to licensure
  • Make a donation

Chicago Mobile Makers

Chicago Mobile Makers, founded in 2017 by Maya Bird-Murphy, works to offer Chicago youth with free and low-cost design-thinking and problem-solving opportunities, including workshops, training events, and more. Its project, which is primarily housed inside of a revamped delivery truck, brings a unique gathering space for kids—especially those in underrepresented communities—to practice and learn more about the art of architecture. Chicago Mobile Makers is made up of volunteer designers, educators, and practicing architects passionate about training the next generation of architects, as well as advocating for social, economic, gender, and racial diversity within the profession. In an effort to reduce contact (due to COVID-19) and continue on with their mission, the organization plans to travel all over Chicago this summer to hand out art kits for children to complete on their own.

How to get involved/support


Beyond the Built Environment

Founded in 2018 by Pascale Sablan, AIA, NOMA, LEED AP, Beyond the Built Environment (BBE) is an advocacy organization that engages communities through architecture to advocate for equitable and reflectively diverse environments. From those in grade school to practitioners, BBE makes it a priority to involve everyone as critical stakeholders and advocates for just, diverse environments. The organization also focuses on highlighting and celebrating the identities and contributions of women and diverse professionals through a series of exhibitions like SAY IT LOUD, lectures, and documentaries that “testify to the provided value of their built work and its spatial impact.”

Note: In the original version, we stated that BBE was a nonprofit organization. We have updated to clarify that  BBE is instead an advocacy organization that uses funds to further their mission of dismantling injustice work. 

How to get involved/support


Girls Garage

Girls Garage is a nonprofit design and building program and dedicated workspace that works on integrating technical skills, college and career readiness, and community leadership for cis girls, trans girls, non-binary youth, gender non-conforming youth, and gender queer youth in Berkeley, California, between the ages of nine and 18. Through classes in carpentry, welding, architecture, and activist art, Girls Garage actively supports and equips a community of young girls to build “the world they want to see.”  Since its inception in 2013, there have been 424 participants—who all attended programs at no cost—and 133 completed projects, including furniture for a domestic abuse shelter and a greenhouse for a community garden. Learn more about how to help Girls Garage keep providing girls with the tools and confidence to imagine and design the built environment around us.

How to get involved/support

  • Follow them on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram
  • Log in to your Amazon account, go to “Your Account” page, select “Change your Charity,” and type in Girls Garage. Then, each time you shop with Smile.Amazon.com, .5 percent of the price of eligible purchases will automatically be donated to Girls Garage in support of their programs.
  • Consider filling out Girls Garage’s volunteer questionnaire if you’re interested in volunteering and living in the Bay Area
  • Encourage your workplace to become a sponsor
  • Make a donation

Freedom by Design™

Some of the opportunities mentioned above are based in specific locations, but you can always consider joining an American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS) Freedom by Design™ (FBD) project. FBD encourages local students to put their skills to use by improving the safety and accessibility of homes and community spaces. As an FBD mentor, you’ll get the opportunity to give back to your local community, while addressing all barriers—whether it be physical, socio-economic, educational, environmental, or cultural. Since 2016, NCARB has provided funding for material grants and infrastructure support, as well as mentorship opportunities with members of state licensing boards and local firms. Learn more about how to get involved.

How to get involved/support

  • Follow along on Instagram
  • Start an FBD program or declare a specific FBD project for your AIAS chapter
  • Volunteer to become a mentor and help students design, attain permits, and construct life-changing solutions
  • Become (or encourage a person, business, or your own workplace to become) a partner for a local project by emailing freedom@aias.org

*As a 501 (c) (6) nonprofit, NCARB faces certain restrictions regarding making monetary donations to other nonprofits. Instead, NCARB establishes partnerships as a means to support community efforts.