Design for Change dfcworld.com/dfc
What is the innovation and how does it address a pressing problem?
Through the Design for Change (DFC) Challenge, children are empowered to design solutions for problems in their lives, schools, neighborhoods, and communities. Under the guidance of their teachers, children pick one week to carry out their project, document their results, and submit their entries to Design for Change.
Children all over the world address issues ranging from challenging age-old superstitions in rural communities, to earning their own money to finance school computers, to solving the problem of heavy school bags. Not only does Design for Change give children skills in design thinking, it encourages them to think proactively about problems in their community, and shows them that they can be agents of positive social change.
What existing practices inspired the innovation and how does it represent something new?
Working through existing institutions like schools, DFC introduces a curriculum based on design thinking. DFC uses the challenges to highlight successful projects. Taken together, this represents an exciting new model of introducing the design process as part of a child’s education, and rewarding those projects that effectively meet the needs of their community. This is a highly effective way to support children’s education, and to effect real change in communities globally.
Please describe the social impact to date, as well as potential impact in the future.
The success of DFC can be evaluated in different ways.
First, since its start in 2009, hundreds of thousands of projects are designed each year by children all over the world. For example, in one community in India, students collected pledges from parents that they would not marry their children off before the age of 18. A school in Papua New Guinea organized a volunteer service for a local home for the disabled, a traditionally marginalized community.
Second, one of the key goals of DFC is to encourage students to feel that they can be agents of positive change in their communities. In an evaluation done by the Good Work Project and Continuum, most winning students reported that they won because they successfully met a community need. Overall, students reported feeling more motivated to support their communities after participating in the Design for Change challenge.
To date, the program has spread to 34 countries and reaches more than 300,000 schools—up from 30,000 in its first year. A step-by-step curriculum is available to support teachers interested in participating. Each year, the program includes hundreds of thousands of students, teachers, and parents.