Community Design Lab

(An Incubator for Inclusive Community Projects)

Student teams work with community partners to design and propose projects that serve local community needs. 

By working closely with organizations and nonprofits in local neighborhoods, students practice humility and empathy by listening to real community members, discovering genuine local problems and needs, and facilitating a radically participatory design process where community members can brainstorm ideas, offer feedback, and vote on the best community projects to prototype and pilot.


Community Design Students will...

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Social structures and the root causes of systemic injustice and oppression

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Listen with humility and be mindful of not assuming community needs

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In genuine partnership with community members, seeking out their perspectives, feedback, and votes

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Prototype & Test

Real ideas for products, services, and movements that serve community needs

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Across corporate, nonprofit, education, and government sectors to introduce and scale community design ideas

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With a critical mindset, recognizing the flaws and implicit power dynamics of traditional service projects


The Community Design Process

An Overview of our Participatory & Inclusive Design Experience

The Community Design Process carefully and sensitively layers the formation of sustainable community projects: from initial introductions to ongoing engagements between students and community members, to a participatory community brainstorming & prototyping process, to the testing and delivery of solutions that address authentic community needs - the entire design process is powered and informed by the inclusion of community members that will benefit from resulting projects.

Starting with discussions and activities around identity, equity, and implicit power dynamics, our approach is rooted in the ideas of critical service learning, designing with not for, and developing sustainable projects that benefit community stakeholders first, and students second.  

Community Design Lab can be delivered across the span of an academic school year, or preferably as a multi-year program that can foster long-term, authentic relationships with community members and sustainable legacy projects. This course is ideal for schools that want to develop a more robust community engagement strategy that is tied to classroom curriculum and student empowerment.

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Benefits for Community Partners

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Resulting Community Project

Development of a solution, pilot program, or product that serves an authentic community need or problem

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Solidarity through Problem-Solving

Cohesion & engagement of community members around identifying and addressing an important community issue

Capacity Building

Knowledge transfer & skills development of community members and organizations as they take part in design thinking and ideation process


Free Labor

Consistent involvement & help from dependable students and faculty working in a volunteer or design facilitator capacity

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Community Partnership 

Development of a long-term, mutually beneficial relationship with a partner school or organization that can potentially provide additional space, volunteers, resources, and know-how


Movement Making

Connection of project and cause to global partners, advocates, & organizations that can amplify an activist message & support the local community

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Partner with us

We deliver social innovation programs that emphasize real world problem solving, social entrepreneurship, design for community, and youth activism. Our programs are available as after school, elective, or summer courses. 

Partner with us as K-12 school leaders, teachers, and young innovators that will solve the world's most urgent social and environmental problems in the 21st century. Support our movement as donors, government partners, education advocates, and supporters of youth empowerment.

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Access to Transformative Education

Free & Publicly Offered Social Innovation Programs for Youth


Public school funding in the United States comes from federal, state, and local government funds. Nearly half of these funds come from local property taxes, creating large differences in funding for schools between wealthy and impoverished communities - especially in urban and rural parts of the country.

Every year over 1.2 million students drop out of high school in the United States. The country's distressed education system has produced over 2,000 "dropout factories" - high schools that graduate less than 60% of their students. 1 in 6 students attend a dropout factory in the United States. 1 in 3 minority students (32%) attend a dropout factory, compared to 8% of white students.


Cambio Labs operates as an educational nonprofit that delivers free and sponsored programs to students in low-income school districts. As a social venture, any income generated through charitable fundraising, grants, or the sale of educational toolkits and services will be administered for the purpose of offering free courses to Title 1 schools and the country's most disadvantaged students.

We help young people discover a future in entrepreneurship, civil service, and the creative sector while they develop mindsets and skills to find purpose and employment in the 21st century. Within and beyond the USA, Cambio Labs advocates for universal access to quality education and legislative policy that supports youth-led innovation. 

Learn More about Free Courses
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