Launched virtually in 2020 as a way to employ graduate students and reach youth during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, our Design to Thrive program has grown into a permanent, fully-in person youth initiative (running in both New York and Philadelphia) centered on design education and career exploration, including building, making, critical thinking and communication skills.
Our youth programs are designed to respond to the opportunity and career awareness gap for low-income youth of color by providing paid opportunities to build skills and confidence in design fields. By looking at their own environments, and working collaboratively with peers and mentors, the youth explore their neighborhoods, tools of activism and their own power to reshape the city. Our mentoring program’s independent evaluation by the Fresh Air Fund in New York shows that the program has a major impact on participants’ advocacy, collaboration and critical thinking skills, their interest in school, and their desire to take care of the environment. Many youths have returned to participate in the program 2 or 3 years in a row.
We’re excited to deepen our connections to community and serve both graduate students and local youth as our Design to Thrive programs continue to grow each year.
Project Partners: Fresh Air Fund, Philly Thrive, The Netter Center, West Philadelphia High School