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Want to empower young people to create solutions to local and global problems?

Design for Change

Marker India
Design for Change empowers students to be socially aware and proactive change agents in their community. Through undertaking self-directed community projects, children shift their mindset from "can I?" to "I can!"

What is Design for Change?

Asma Hussain
“We have received more than 20,000 stories of change from 45 countries and have impacted 2.2 million students.”

Kiran Bir Sethi, Design for Change Founder

Design for Change firmly believes that all children have the ingredients to "be the change".

The vision of Design for Change is to ensure, by design, that all children grow with the “I can” mindset – the belief that they are not helpless, change is possible and they can drive it.

Every child has the right to express their views on matters that affect them and to have those views considered. Education systems have an opportunity to develop each child’s personality and talents to the full, to encourage the child’s respect for human rights, their own and other cultures, and the environment. In short, children should be empowered to be active citizens, able to make a change in the world. Academic competence and character development are the two most valued outcomes, for both educators and the public, yet the prevalence of standardized testing shows that academic competence is increasingly prioritized, leaving a lack of opportunity for a child to develop their unique personality and talents and to have their voice heard.

Since 2009, Design for Change has empowered children to be active change-makers in their communities. The goal is to create a learning environment that balances academic attainment with character development, focusing on passion and compassion, content and character, doing well and doing good. Design for Change is completely decentralized – the ideas for projects will come from the schools and communities themselves. This means any school around the world can adopt the key principles and utilize the method to suit their unique context and particular needs.

The four-step Feel, Imagine, Do, Share process used by Design for Change leads students to understand situations empathetically, imagine creative solutions and work collaboratively to put those solutions into action. The approach builds employability skills, such as empathy, collaboration, leadership, presentation. Through taking control of their own learning, children are able to unlock skills they didn’t even know they had. A 28% increase in overall grades and 39% increase of performance in standardized testing have been evidenced. In addition to academic improvements, teachers see their students become empowered, and are able to shift their practice from teacher to facilitator, as children become the driving force in their own education. 

Design for Change organizes an annual global conference, Be The Change, to allow young superheroes from across the world to showcase their stories of change and to inspire others with their determination and courage.

Design for Change has received much recognition for their work and have won 8 awards to date.

Read more ›
Intended Outcomes
8 - 13
Age Group
Resources Needed
As this is a student-led project, a minimal adult input is required. Resources for schools are available on the website and Design for Change supports teachers to implement this approach in their school.
HundrED Criteria
Design for Change is very contextual. It can be replicated and used in multiple ways to teach content and inspire children to participate in projects and become self-aware. It is the simplicity of the framework that allows so much innovation to happen. The programme develops problem-solving skills, critical thinking and a high level of empathy.
Design for Change has received over 20,000 stories of change from 45 countries and has impacted 2.2 million students. Research conducted by The Good Project at the Harvard Graduate School of Education shows significant attitudinal shifts: most students begin the sessions feeling frustrated and helpless and the majority leave feeling motivated, hopeful, proud and excited to make a change.
Design for Change partners with other organizations to bring the programme to as many children as possible. For example, in collaboration with the International Office for Catholic Education, Design for Change has been taken to over 240,000 schools worldwide, while Scholas Occurrentes has taken Design for Change to over 446,000 schools worldwide.

See this innovation in action.


Inspired to implement this? Here's how...

Learners take a close look at their surroundings, identify a problem they feel strongly about and engage with the community to scrutinise this situation through multiple perspectives, developing empathy in the process.
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Tap into the wildly creative optimism inherent in children to visualise an ideal scenario and brainstorm ways to achieve it.
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Young people get to step out of the classroom and put their ideas into action, redefining "failure" as "prototyping".
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Learners are encouraged to share their stories with the world to enable other young people to say "I can!" too.
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Connect with the innovator

Asma Hussain
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