High School Students Work with DFA to Design Solutions for Social Problems

Chicago and Evanston teens invited to Design for America summit at Northwestern


EVANSTON, Ill. --- At least 20 high school students from Chicago and Evanston will join more than 100 college students from all over the country at Design for America’s (DFA) Leadership Studio, empowering high school voices in their education and communities.

The Leadership Studio is part of DFA’s inaugural summit Aug. 2-3 on Northwestern University’s Evanston campus. High school students will partner with college students representing DFA studios at 38 universities to identify and design solutions for problems in one of three areas: 

  • Mental health

  • Mentor relationships

  • Preparing for the jobs of tomorrow
 

The challenge is part of a five-day crash course in design methods that teaches students to use human-centered design to solve problems in their communities. From ideation to prototyping and pitching, students will go through all of the paces of designing social solutions for real-world problems.

Media are invited to attend the final pitch session on Friday, Aug. 3, at 3:30 p.m. at 560 Lincoln Ave. on Northwestern’s Evanston campus, where current DFA students and high school students will present their projects to solve problems in their communities.

Reporting opportunities include video interviews with students and DFA administrators, as well as the opportunity to witness highly visual design problem-solving through active prototyping in the design studio.

Media who wish to attend should RSVP to Kayla Stoner at kayla.stoner@northwestern.edu and Rebecca Breuer at rebecca@designforamerica.com.

Past projects developed at the Leadership Studio include a voter education initiative that is now part of Chicago Public Schools’ middle school election curriculum. A 2017 project resulted in a proprietary labeling system that shows airport ground handlers, step-by-step, how to store and protect wheelchairs during air travel.

Media also are invited to attend all summit events, which include keynote discussions by industry leaders such as Charles Adler, co-founder of Kickstarter; Daniel H. Pink, the New York Times best-selling author of books including “Drive” and “To Sell is Human;” Tracy Johnson of the Gates Foundation; and many others.

View the full event schedule and speaker bios online.

About Design for America

DFA is a national network of innovators working together to improve their local communities through design. A 2018 recipient of a Cooper Hewitt National Design Award, DFA is the brainchild of Northwestern University faculty member Liz Gerber, who started the first DFA studio with three undergraduate students in 2009. Gerber saw that design could be used to bring new solutions to seemingly intractable social issues and saw the importance of providing training and experience, equipping young people with the capacity to make change. Today, DFA has inspired more than 4,000 passionate students, educators and design professionals across the country. The network has tackled hundreds of challenges ranging from accessible healthcare to drinkable water. DFA shapes the next generation of social innovators.

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