Green Space Connections is Creating a “Game Plan” for Open Space in Public Housing Communities. Design Trust for Public Space, in partnership with the Public Housing Community Fund and the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), will award a Design Trust Fellowship to join our Green Space Connections project in planning and policy.

Fellowship Applications accepted on a rolling basis until Feb 1, 2024.

Project Overview
Access to safe, well-maintained open spaces is a health equity issue. There is a clear link between proximity to open space and overall community health. Public health experts indicate that a person's zip code is a better predictor of one's health rather than genetics or lifestyle choices. Green space is a critical environmental justice tool to combat climate change and prepare vulnerable neighborhoods for climate resilience. 

Launched in 2022, Green Space Connections is a three-year initiative led by the Public Housing Community Fund in collaboration with NYCHA’s Asset & Capital Management Division, and managed by The Design Trust for Public Space.

The project is using the Connected Communities' participatory design process to create and activate green space at four NYCHA public housing developments. These four sites – Marlboro Houses and Roosevelt Houses in Brooklyn and Castle Hill Houses and Patterson Houses in the Bronx – were selected due to their documented high need in health indicators as well as climate vulnerability.

The Green Space Connections project is seeking to create an open space toolkit, a practical design guide for resident leaders and non-profit leaders. The resource will outline the design standards, basic requirements, and funding mechanisms for open space projects across all of NYCHA’s communities. It will categorize common improvement elements and identify contextual standards to make these successful. The final publication will be simple and effective: targeted to resident leaders, non-profits, and philanthropic institutions. 

Ultimately, this guide will leverage the growing access to financial resources and the ability for public-private partnerships to deliver these improvements with greater efficacy. NYCHA communities have an unprecedented opportunity to realize self-directed open space improvements. This guide will greatly expand and expedite the scale of these projects across the city.

As a result, nearly 1 in 17 New Yorkers who live in public housing will have a chance to benefit from high quality open space. Activating NYCHA open spaces builds stronger community connections between NYCHA campuses and the city’s public sidewalks and streets, parks, institutions, retail and transit. Creating strong resident networks empowers communities to continue to advocate for public housing improvements, beyond these initial sites. Improving the surrounding physical environment at NYCHA developments through community design will have a transformative impact on the lives of public housing communities and beyond.

Key Project Activities

As a Design Trust Fellow, participants will serve as leaders of the project, using their professional and personal expertise to ensure the most positive outcome. Additionally, each Fellow will be tasked with specific tasks relative to their skillset. The overall inputs for the project include: 

  • Research and collate knowledge of NYCHA’s past open space plans, design guidelines and contract requirements in one simplified deliverable.

  • Interview stakeholders of Green Space Connections projects to understand potential best practices of the Connected Communities participatory design process

  • Design and Produce a toolkit that can be used by a variety of stakeholders including resident leaders, non-profit organizations, and philanthropic partners to understand costs and processes associated with common open space upgrades.

  • Outreach and engagement around the toolkit to socialize its use amongst NYCHA  stakeholders.

At the end of this project, Fellows will deliver:

  • An Open Space Toolkit outlining the timeline, cost, complexity, and other considerations for common projects at NYCHA

  • A Launch Event celebrating the toolkit publication and highlighting successful Green Space Connections interventions

  • Trainings on how to use the toolkit and new partnerships with residents and organizations who are interested in pursuing their own open space projects

Fellowship Overview

What is a Design Trust Fellow?

A design-thinker. An instigator. A collaborator. And a champion of our values:

  • The cultural and democratic life of the city depends on viable public space.

  • Design excellence is the minimum requirement for all public space.

  • Social justice and environmental sustainability must guide public space design. 

  • Rigorous engagement with all stakeholders plays a determining role in the quality of public space.

  • Cross-sector partnerships are vital to achieving and sustaining long-term change.

Design Trust Fellows are leading professionals in their field or dedicated community advocates and are chosen for their talent, expertise, experience, and strong qualifications. Fellows must have demonstrated the ability to work independently and collaboratively and have direct experience producing deliverables similar to those stated in the Fellow Description. Fellows do not need to meet exact qualifications; however, they must show a willingness to explore topics outside of their previous work and demonstrate an interest and excitement for the project focus.

If chosen, the Fellow would join a network of over 100 Fellows from past Design Trust projects. Fellows will have the chance to build these relationships through participation in quarterly Fellows Forum salons tackling varying design issues in the City. The Design Trust’s strong local ties with many types of designers and urbanists in New York make this position ideal for someone looking to expand their professional network or thinking about making a career change in New York City.

The Design Trust process is open and collaborative. Fellows must work effectively with one another, the project partners, Design Trust staff, and community stakeholders. Fellows bring their skills and expertise to bear on the project, developing innovative responses to the City’s most vexing challenges, and pushing for creative thinking. With Design Trust, project partner, and community stakeholders, Fellows create unique design solutions that generate systemic or policy change for New York City’s public space.

Design Trust projects require significant time commitments from Fellows to work with multiple stakeholders, develop implementable strategies and recommendations, and produce final deliverables. The expectation is that Fellows will devote approximately 1 – 2 days per week to the project, for an approximate 6 - 9 month period beginning in February 2024. The Fellows' stipends are $15,000 each for the completed project work.


Firm principals and sole proprietors are encouraged to apply with the understanding that the fellowship is time intensive and the compensation is modest. Professionals with full-time positions may apply if they have the support of their employers; recognition of firms as sponsors of the project can be arranged. Students are not eligible to apply, except for Ph.D. candidates who meet the fellowship requirements.

All applicants must, at the time of their application, have the legal ability to work in the United States and must reside in the New York City area for participation in project meetings and events. 

Design Trust encourages people of all abilities, ethnicities, genders, national origins or ancestries, races, religions, and sexualities to apply. Design Trust is also committed to accessibility and to working together with you to develop an accessibility plan. 

Fellowship Description: Planning and Policy Fellow

The Planning and Policy Fellow is responsible for developing the Game Plan toolkit outlining common elements of NYCHA open space upgrades. The Fellow will be expected to: 

  • Synthesize research and findings from the Connected Communities guidebook and NYCHA’s Open Space Master Plan. 

  • Understand existing contract requirements and processes governing the design and operation of various types of open spaces on NYCHA property, and identify the common elements within these projects.

  • Work with current members of the Green Space Connections team to understand best practices and current status of projects.

  • Scan national policy and design requirements of public housing authorities.

  • Work closely with the Communications Fellow in developing the toolkit design and content.

Candidates should have relevant work experience and/or a degree in urban planning, public policy, architecture, urban policy, law, journalism or a related field. Preference will be given to candidates who have experience working with NYCHA and leading participatory planning or research projects. Additionally, candidates should have significant experience writing about complex issues for a broad public audience; working directly with and presenting to clients; working on collaborative projects or in teams. 

Fellowship Benefits

Design Trust Fellows receive benefits that advance their immediate and long-term career growth. Participation in a Design Trust project gives Fellows the opportunity to explore an urban issue in-depth and make a tangible effect on New York City’s public realm.  Additional benefits include:

  • Introductions to and opportunities for significant engagement with policymakers, community leaders, and professionals from other disciplines

  • An honorarium of $15,000 for the full project work

  • Participation in speaking engagements associated with the project or related topic (both Design Trust events and programs organized by peer organizations)

  • Opportunities for recognition in local and national media coverage of the project

  • Credit as a Design Trust Fellow for life, including:

  • Recognition on the Design Trust website with biographic information and the opportunity to highlight awards and latest news.

  • Inclusion of professional milestones in the Design Trust newsletter

  • Invitation to Fellows Forum events

  • Honorary Membership in Design Trust Council, the leadership circle of the Design Trust for Public Space, for a year, including invitations to Design Trust Council events. For more information:

How to Apply

Candidates should send an email with the name of the fellowship they’re applying for in the subject line and a single PDF attached (maximum of 10 pages and 5 MB), including a cover letter, a curriculum vitae, and a sample of relevant work (writing, publications, links to digital work, etc.) to

Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until February 1st at 11:59pm. 

Interviews will be scheduled on a rolling basis.  Please note: candidates under consideration will be contacted by e-mail. No phone calls to Design Trust, please. 

Selected applicants should be available to begin work in late February 2024 and remain available part-time through December 2024.

About the Design Trust for Public Space

Founded in 1995, the Design Trust for Public Space is a non-profit organization that unlocks the potential of New York’s public spaces. Our unique model catalyzes design ideas into action for a more just and equitable city. Design Trust is at the forefront of shaping NYC's public realm from parks, plazas, and streets to city buildings, transportation systems and neighborhoods throughout all five boroughs, developing equitable and vibrant public space through collaborative design. Learn more:

About The Public Housing Community Fund

The Public Housing Community Fund is an independent not-for-profit organization that creates and leverages resources and relationships to enhance the opportunities and quality of life for New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) residents. Through public-private partnership with NYCHA, the Fund is investing in leadership development, workforce skills, economic mobility, community health and resident asset building, with a focus on NYCHA’s 100,000 youth and young adults (14-24 years of age), as a centerpiece of the organization’s commitment to creating economic opportunity and equity for all NYCHA residents. For more information, visit