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Speaking with self described “inspiration junkie” and four-time Sappi Ideas that Matter recipient Doug Hebert, Principal, Design Director, Savage, two things are evident—his passion for cause-driven projects and the critical role that Sappi Ideas that Matter has played in making them happen.

Founded on the idea that the power of design can be harnessed for social good and started over a decade ago, Sappi’s Ideas that Matter competition is “an annual, innovative grant program that provides monetary support to produce the creative ideas of designers working for social good.” A mission that has yielded considerable results as demonstrated by the success of 2010 grant recipient Bao Design Lab for example, who working with Ugandan partner Technology for Tomorrow (T4T) was able to implement a program called Project Dose, to improve medication delivery for children in developing countries.

Earlier this month Sappi announced a distinguished panel of judges recognized for their award winning design as well as their leadership in design for social good for this year’s program: Rich Hollant, Principal/Design Director at co:lab inc., Hartford, CT; Sam Shelton, Principal/Designer, Kinetik, Washington, DC; Mariana Amatullo, Vice President, Designmatters Department, Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, CA; Mike Weikert, Partner at Weikert Design, Baltimore, MD; and Tracy West, Creative Director, 50,000feet.

Hebert who has been on the Ideas that Matter judging panel himself in addition to being a recipient shared his reflections on his Sappi Ideas that Matter experience and how it has affected him. He recalled first becoming aware of the program from a promotional piece at an AIGA meeting in Las Vegas and thinking to himself “Gosh, that’s pretty cool, I’d love to do it.” but at that point didn’t have the time. A few years later his son’s premature birth would be the catalyst for Hebert’s first Ideas that Matter project— a handbook designed to help parents of premature children entitled “High Risk: A Handbook for the Aftercare of Premature Infants.”

“Once that first grant happened it got the bug started,” said Hebert. In response to whether or not he thought that “ideas found him” Hebert replied, “Yes, definitely” and explained how each of his grant ideas had stemmed from a personal experience. In one instance it was his father-in-law’s battle with pancreatic cancer that inspired him to want to do something to help other patients, in another instance the idea of children growing up without being adopted into a loving home the way Hebert had been, prompted a project to help other children find a “forever home.” The idea for Hebert’s 2011 Ideas that Matter project for The Gay Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) came about when Hebert was thinking about the hate and torment children who are bullied undergo daily and how he would hate for that to ever happen to his own children.

Asked to describe how being a Sappi Ideas that Matter grant recipient had affected him, Hebert said “It’s affected me more than anything I’ve ever done in my career—period. It showed me how design can affect the human condition,” and affirmed that it had led to his forming Savage Good, a pro bono branding and design initiative. Hebert advised designers looking for inspiration to “Find something that’s close to you, close to your heart, close to your family.”

Regarding the application process he said “Do not be intimidated by the process,” adding that in terms of approaching organizations with ideas, he had found people were “hugely receptive.” As far as submitting, he stressed the importance of a strong idea and the ability to execute it. Although, he did cite instances where the ideas had been strong enough that some judges actually stepped in to serve as mentors on those particular projects.

As stated in a June 7, 2012 press release, Sappi Ideas that Matter “has funded over 500 nonprofit projects, contributing $12 million worldwide to causes that enhance our lives, our communities and our planet.” The 2012 submission deadline is July 20, 2012. To apply, learn more or hear other grant recipient’s share their “Stories of Change”