In the summer of 2017 we set up the Digital Lab at Root Division, an arts non-profit in San Francisco, and conducted a series of creative problem solving workshops for middle and high school youth. The workshops were free and designed to be accessible to everyone. We spent a year doing research and talking to several youth organizations to understand what the community needed. We then created a framework based on our experiences for fellow creatives who are interested in similar educational pursuits.
Karelia Arredondo, Anum Awan,
creating the framework
facilitating design thinking workshops
We met with educators from several non-profit organizations that were conducting free after school art programs in the city. What we heard inspired us. We realized that San Francisco already had a robust network of art organizations doing great work, with several decades of experience. These organizations had already cultivated safe spaces, relationships, and trust with the youth they served. With these new insights, we decided to pivot from creating a new summer program to collaborating with these art organizations, bringing in our design expertise. What we saw was the perfect opportunity to take our design thinking and graphic design skills outside of our graduate design program and into the community.
01. There is a robust network of art organizations in San Francisco that offer programming for youth.
02. Underserved youth often don’t have access to design and digital art through schools or other organizations.
03. There has been an increase in interest among youth towards design.
How might we enable capacity building among youth by sharing transferable skills that they can leverage in order to become creators of their own future?
We facilitated two prototype workshops at the Boys and Girls clubs of the Tenderloin and the Mission. This gave us the opportunity to iterate and prepare for our week long workshop at Root Division. Prototyping the workshops helped us learn what keeps students engaged, and we made changes to our curriculum and schedule based on the feedback we received.
DEVELOPING THE FRAMEWORK
Throughout our initiative we thought about how our work and our insights could live on. We realized that the most beneficial contribution we could make to the community was to share our findings in a framework which future workshop facilitators could use. The framework takes you through an iterative process focused on co-creation, participatory design, and the creation of a safe and engaging space.
VISION AND NEXT STEPS
The process of designing and facilitating workshops for youth made me realize how much I enjoy the field of design education. We plan to continue our partnership with Root Division and organize the next series of workshops. In the meantime, we would like to get feedback on our framework, and encourage people to hack it and build upon it. We hope this will generate a space for dialogue, discussion, and quality education for all children.