Sappi Ideas That Matter Program Promotes Positive Causes


Sappi North America established the Ideas that Matter grant program 17 years ago to fund designers who apply their creative talents to causes that address significant issues facing society. The program arose from the belief that creative and integrated work of designers can change the world, that good ideas inspire people to take action, and great ideas change the world. And in a world filled with a variety of media choices, print is at the heart of influential and effective messaging and a perfect complement to promote positive social causes.

Patti Groh, Marketing Communications Director, Sappi North America says: “Over the course of this program, Sappi North America has financed projects that have resulted in real change such as making broadband internet available for K-12 American schools, delivering properly dosed medicines for children in Africa, providing access to fresh food for Baltimore inner-city neighborhoods, and encouraging adoption of ‘ugly’ dogs in Oklahoma. The breadth, quality and impact of projects we’ve supported have made a meaningful difference in people’s lives.  Social design impacts society in a positive way so we’re honored to annually produce, nurture and provide support for the work of designers and nonprofits.”

This year’s panel of judges include: Christopher Simmons, Principal and Creative Director of San Francisco design office, MINE™; Vicky Jones, Vice President, Brand Strategy & Creative at Phase 3 Marketing and Communications in Atlanta;  Andrew Shea, Principal at MANY, a multidisciplinary design studio in New York; and Sarah Brooks, Director, Insight & Design, Customer Experience Office at Department of Veterans Affairs, Washington, D.C.


Unique Program

Ideas that Matter is the only paper industry grant program that funds projects addressing a variety of social issues – from diversity and human rights campaigns to health and youth development. Since 1999 Sappi has funded more than 500 programs for nearly $13 million worldwide. The 2015 winners included Savage Good, Tarallo Design, University of Notre Dame, Jennifer Cheng, Catherine Lim and Tyler Monteferrante, Becky Slogeris, 826LA, 50,000 Feet, and MASS Design Group.

2015 was also the year that Sappi introduced a “People’s Voice Award”, which offered the chance for the design community to participate directly in the grant program by voting for their favorite projects. The grant that received the most Facebook “Likes” received an additional cash bonus to escalate the reach, impact and influence of their project. The 2015 People’s Voice Award winner was Tarallo Design for their proposal for the Regional Environmental Council. The proposal centered on the creation of an awareness campaign that will educate and engage the Worcester community about environmental and food justice.

Videos of previous winners can be viewed on Sappi’s Ideas that Matter website. Additional information is available on the Ideas that Matter Facebook page, on Twitter @SappiNA as well as Sappi’s Facebook Page and Instagram.

Entering and Selection

Ideas that Matter proposals are evaluated on creativity, potential effectiveness and practicality by an independent panel of judges influential in the design industry. The call for Ideas that Matter submissions is open to designers, design firms, agencies, in-house corporate design departments, design instructors, design students and design student groups. Only applicants in North America may apply. Grant awards range from $5,000 to $50,000 per project. Each application must include an IRS 501 (c) 3 letter or Canadian equivalent of the applicant’s nonprofit organization.

Applications for the 2016 program must be submitted and postmarked no later than July 15, 2015. Judging takes place in August, grants are announced in September, and awards distributed in October. To obtain an entry form visit the website or call 800-882-4332.