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What is Designit’s annual pro-bono program?

It's an initiative supporting Designit's efforts to empower local non-profits, startups and social enterprises with the design tools they need to increase their impact. Through a private design course for up to 25 people, a six- to eight-week collaborative pro-bono project, and further private coaching, we will help a local organization get the hands-on experience they need to make the human-centered design process central to the way they operate.

What is human-centered design?

Human-centered design (HCD), is an approach to problem solving that’s centered on building empathy for the people you’re designing for. The approach consists of three phases: 1) Discovery, in which you seek to understand the users, their needs and pain points. 2) Ideation, in which you identify opportunities and come up with creative solutions. 3) Prototyping and Implementation: During this phase, you build quick prototypes of the concepts, test them and define which ones are the best options.

How long is the program?

The complete program lasts from May to November. There are three main components of the program:

  • Two-day private Design Thinking Immersive course in April or May. Up to 25 members of the organization will be invited to join the course.
  • Six- to eight-week collaborative design project between July and August.

Do you need to be a nonprofit to apply?

You don’t have to be a nonprofit, but you do need to be a social enterprise or an organization that operates in the social impact space.

Who is your ideal candidate/partner?

Our ideal partner is serving their community, has an agile team that can make decisions quickly, and has a specific challenge that can be tackled in six to eight weeks. We’re open to collaborating with organizations in a wide range of industries and social impact areas, including sustainability, food waste and food systems, justice and inequality, poverty, homelessness, healthcare, education, accessibility, arts and culture, smart city/IoT, civics, and more.

What’s the catch?

There’s no catch! We want to engage with the larger NYC social impact network and collaborate on how we can make a difference together.

What will you expect from the partner organization?

As a 2020 Designit pro-bono partner, you must agree to the following:

  • Participating in a two-day Design Thinking course. Open to up to 25 people in your organization
  • Designate a team of up to four core members to work with our designers for the duration of the six- to eight-week project. The two- to four-member core team must be able to dedicate up to four hours per week to the project.
  • By participating in the program, you agree that Designit may publish a case study of the project. You can refer to our work page to familiarize yourself with our case study format.

What kind of teams will we work with?

You will be working with a team of three to five of our designers from different disciplines (design research, UX design, business design, etc).

How will you select the pro-bono partner? What’s the selection criteria?

Once our pro-bono team screens all organizations through the application requirements, our designers will review all applications and invite up to five shortlisted organizations to meet with us in person and tell us more about the project they need help with. Selection will be based on the following:

  • Organization needs vs. our capabilities match: Is the challenge something we can tackle?
  • Length of project/need: Can we complete the project within eight weeks? What value can we provide in that time frame?

When will you announce the selected partner?

Shortlisted organizations will be contacted during the week of March 27, 2020, and invited to come into our Brooklyn studio for a meeting and presentation between March 29 and April 3, 2020. The selected organization will hear back from us by April 6, 2020.