How might we push education forward by providing meaningful opportunities for students and professionals to collaborate to solve real problems?
This was the question that launched Design 4 Impact, a student-run startup at Avenues New York, in 2015. D4i trains students in design thinking and facilitation, and runs design challenges with students and professionals (Pro Partners), in order to tackle problems and build leadership skills. Since then, D4i has evolved, with students running challenges, hosting large-scale events, running summits at national conferences. With each milestone, we eagerly awaited the day that D4i would “go global.”
I’m delighted to announce that day has officially come! D4i São Paulo conducted its first full-day design challenge, with 40 local students and six professional organizations, each bringing a different challenge for their group.
Throughout the one-day design challenge, Avenues student Leads successfully led the groups through the steps in the design process: Empathize, Define, Prototype, Test, Iterate and Present.
By 3:30 p.m. the auditorium was a beautiful mess, and we were inspired by everyone’s solutions and grateful for everyone’s hard work, patience, and flexibility.
I’ve come to see just how powerful and effective the Design Challenge model can be to bring real-world solving and adult-youth collaboration to schools. To build a one-day challenge requires substantial creativity, training, planning, and persistence, which are all critical 21st-century skills for young people to develop, yet ones often overlooked in “normal” classes.
I want to thank the D4i Leads for the incredible effort they put in to make the work a reality. I would also like to extend my gratitude to D4i advisor Samantha de Silva, a Secondary Division dean, Sylvia Guimarães, our director of community engagement, and Bryan Iversen, our technology integrator and project manager. I’m grateful that Avenues believes in this model and is willing to support opportunities like this. With the school, our student-run startup has now expanded to a new continent, and the best is yet to come!