In  its first annual call for proposals, the Philip A. Morris Fund for Design Arts of the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham awarded $171,500  in grants to six area nonprofits.

In 2015, Phillip Morris – former executive editor of Southern Living magazine and a champion of how good design enriches our communities and our lives – established the Morris Fund, an endowed Field of Interest Fund at the Community Foundation. He envisioned a fund that would provide resources to support his passion for the design arts and the role that the design arts play in enhancing and building thriving communities. Central to the mission of the Fund is creating and expanding awareness of the design arts and the impact of quality design.

Broadly stated, “design arts” include but are not limited to urban planning; design and the built environment; architecture; graphic arts and graphic design; and landscape planning and design.

An Advisory Committee for the Philip Morris Fund for the Design Arts reviewed the grant proposals to ensure that they met Mr. Morris’s specific definition of design arts and his intentions for broad community building and inclusion.

Organizations receiving funds this year are:

  • Main Street Alabama, $40,000, to help choose and underwrite a keynote speaker and education content for the Main Street Now Conference in 2024, the country’s largest gathering of preservation and revitalization practitioners. The 2024 annual conference is being held in Birmingham.
  • Town of White Hall, $15,000, to work with Design Alabama, Inc. to create an official plan for the town which will develop a strategy of design for land use and zoning, discover spaces for recreation, and improve the aesthetic design of the town.
  • Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, $50,000, for design fees for the interactive video wall in their new Visitors and Education Center, which will include interactive features that will allow visitors to explore the content in a personalized manner, choosing their own path through the narratives and delving deeper into topics of interest.
  • Railroad Park Foundation, $50,000, for the documentary “Birmingham’s Front Lawn: Cities, Greenspaces, and the Story of Railroad Park,” which will highlight the transformation of the former Railroad Reservation into a vibrant park, a story about the power of urban planning, community collaboration, and landscape design to jumpstart civic life.
  • Design Alabama, Inc., $10,000, to support the 18th annual Philip A. Morris Mayors Design Summit, which brings mayors and designers together to understand local design issues and how good design can change community. Following the summit, the participating mayors receive a report from the designers.
  • Freshwater Land Trust, $6,500 for a design lecture and reception with speakers from Alta Planning + Design of Portland, Oregon (Alta) and Robert Finkel, Program Chair of Auburn University’s School of Industrial and Graphic Design. Alta recently helped Freshwater Land Trust with a master plan to update the 2010 Red Rock Trail System identifying the next seven priority trail corridors needed to create a 36-mile loop around the greater Birmingham metro area.

For more information about the Morris Fund or to make a gift, visit Philip A. Morris Fund for the Design Arts