In 2008, a conversation over the dinner table changed our lives.
We discussed how businesses rely on design and innovation practices to deliver products and services that people really want. We wondered why the risk-taking do-gooders of the world didn’t have access to that same level of creative and strategic design support to design products and services that people really need.
We asked ourselves about the role of design in social change, and how that might fit with our other loves like multi-disciplinary teamwork, leadership development, and creative problem solving.
This conversation kicked-off a two-year pilot project, and later, an international fellowship program for designers and organizations working together to create lasting good in their communities.
Small steps became big steps and big steps became Design Impact.
Five years later, we’ve worked closely with our partners to incubate over 30 social innovation projects, train over 1,500 leaders, and provide countless hours of design and innovation services to community development initiatives.
Design Impact is a non-profit social innovation firm made up of designers, community development practitioners, social entrepreneurs, and educators. We collaborate with passionate people, bring design and innovation practice to the table, and work together to design a better world.
Our mission is to:
• INCUBATE projects that transform communities,
• EQUIP leaders with social innovation tools, and
• ADVANCE methods of creative community change.
We Get Our Hands Dirty (INCUBATE)
In this portion of our work, we join social innovation projects as intimate partners in their growth and development over time. We gather insights on the issues at hand, share tools to address them, and actively participate in day-to-day project work. We stick around for the entire life cycle, from the first conversation through to implementation and evaluation.
We Grow Leaders (EQUIP)
We design and facilitate highly contextualized educational programs on innovation, leadership, and social impact for emerging leaders of any educational level, anywhere in the world.
Our programs are circles, not lines: we don’t simply deposit information. We know that humans learn by DOING, so participants join in conversations and active learning experiences that are designed to help them drive change in their own unique contexts. All of our programs provide participants with time and tools to work on their own particular projects—and because trainings happen over an extended period of time, participants gain a deep level of understanding and high level of independence.
• 260 MBA students learn and apply practical innovation, leadership, and social impact tools
• 10 non-profit leaders and 10 corporate employees work together to design local community solutions
• 40 collective impact leaders learn and use design thinking to increase community will
We Develop New Methods and Share our Story (ADVANCE)
Social problems are complex and constantly changing, and every project we work on teaches us new lessons. This ongoing learning provides us with a unique vantage point about the role of design and innovation processes in social change work, so we happily share the research, methods, and evolving perspective on what’s working, what’s new, and what’s next. We teach at universities, present at conferences, produce written guides, and do anything else we can to share our work, create new content, and extend its reach.
We have hundreds of stories to share. Click below to read more about a few of our favorites.
Kate has over ten years of professional experience in creative non-profit and social enterprise development. Her work with Design Impact began in 2009 while living and working in a rural south Indian village. Since then she has grown the organization from a small idea to a full-fledged public interest design firm. She has spoken and led trainings in various settings such as TEDx, Procter & Gamble, College for Creative Studies Toyota speaker series, and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Before founding Design Impact, she earned her Master’s degree in Education, taught for four years in a low-income, under-performing district, and led strategic planning and capacity building for the Ohio Justice & Policy Center, a non-profit law firm that works for criminal justice reform. She has lived and worked internationally on education and youth development initiatives in India, Jamaica, and New Zealand. In addition to leading Design Impact, she currently teaches as an Adjunct Faculty member at the University of Cincinnati Honors College and the Center for Creative Leadership.
Kate’s work has been published through media outlets such as Fast Company, Innovations, and GOOD, and she was recently listed as one of Public Interest Design’s Top 100 Global Designers. Her experiences in corporate, non-profit, and educational settings have given her a unique ability to build diverse, cross-sector partnerships that create positive social change.
Ramsey Ford brings a wealth of design and entrepreneurship experience to the Design Impact team. He has practiced design from a variety of perspectives; working as a freelancer, contractor, project manager, and full time designer for a diverse group of product-design consultancies. He has designed and marketed his own craft-based and industrial-based products, and teaches design at the University of Cincinnati. Before founding Design Impact, he focused his Masters thesis on “Design and Empowerment: Learning from Community Organizing.” Through numerous workshops, published articles, and speaking engagements, Ramsey has helped to further the conversation on inclusive design in the social sector. He received an undergraduate degree in Industrial Design from the University of Cincinnati in 2003 and a Master of Design from the same in 2009.
Sarah Corlett specializes in community economic development. In 2011, she joined ArtWorks to develop, launch and manage ArtWorks’ business development program for artisans and creative entrepreneurs targeting sustainability. As Director of Creative Enterprise, Sarah built resources that train, promote and connect creative entrepreneurs in the region and helped lead to the strategic growth of the organization.
Prior to working for ArtWorks, Sarah served as the Director of Economic Development for a non-profit in Philadelphia, NKCDC. Here she led the planning, programming and implementation of an arts based economic development strategy. She received her Master in Planning and Public Policy degree from the University of Illinois – Chicago in 2005. As a former company member of Dayton Ballet, Sarah is passionate about the role arts and culture plays in transforming lives, public spaces, communities and entire cities. Sarah is a board member of the Over-the-Rhine Brewery District Community Urban Redevelopment Corporation and is a 2013 Business Courier 40 Under 40 Honoree.
Rashid Owoyele’s work ranges from urbanism to service design and beyond. He holds an MFA in Transdisciplinary Design from Parsons in NYC where he focused on the intersection of design and social justice. In his undergraduate career, Rashid designed a course of study in Environmental Ethics & Design at Indiana University in Indianapolis. Before obtaining his MFA, Rashid held the roles of qualitative researcher, career coach, communications specialist, and program manager.
Prior to joining Design Impact he taught in the Higher Education Opportunity Program at Parsons where he worked with students across disciplines to develop social movement campaigns using human-centered approaches. He has been a collaborator with design teams that implemented projects in Indiana, Colombia, Italy, France, and New York City. Rashid is a Ronald E. McNair Scholar, an Amazing Alumnus of IU’s School of Liberal Arts, a Parsons Dean’s Scholar, The New School’s Alma Mater Awardee, and was also highlighted by Parsons as a School of Design Strategies Alumnus.
Bizzy Young is part graphic designer, part administrator, and part communications coordinator. Bizzy holds a Bachelor of Arts in Interactive Media Studies Design from Miami University. While there, she worked with various types of multimedia and fabrication arts such as film/photography, computer animation, arduinos, woodworking, lasercutting, and website development.
As a student at Miami University, Bizzy was awarded the Provost’s Academic Achievement Award for outstanding contributions to her field and an Undergraduate Summer Scholar award for her participatory, new media documentary, “The Couch Project.”
Prior to Design Impact, Bizzy worked in the outdoor industry as the sole graphic designer at Benchmark Outdoor Outfitters a professional outfitter for camping, backpacking, kayaking, and climbing gear. As a recent grad, she is excited to be continuing her design career at Design Impact and hopes to build a presence in the design for social good movement.
Sharmila Sitther is an international development (M.A.) and writing (B.A.) professional with a passion for supporting innovative initiatives which empower people with resources, skills and opportunities. She has worked as a project manager and grant writer for non-profits large and small, covering a range of issues from economic development to food security, gender, and homelessness.
Sharmila works on developing DI’s fundraising and communications efforts including donor research and reports, grant proposals, annual reports, and design-tool publications. She also leads various special projects including designing stakeholder surveys and developing grant management tools.
Kaleidoscope is a global innovation and product-design firm with five locations and more than 80 employees. They transform business through Purpose Driven Innovation™ by leveraging their expertise at the intersection of consumer insights, technology, and health and wellness. Headquartered in Cincinnati, Kaleidoscope generously offers Design Impact free rent, free internet, free services, free advice, and free camaraderie. They were a huge part of our beginning, and we couldn’t ask for more.
Co-Founder, Quicksand Design
State Director, Center for Progressive Leadership
Design Director, Future Works, Procter & Gamble
Design Director, Design Impact
Executive Director, Design Impact
Managing Director, Kirsch CPA Group
Designer, Black and Blue Design
Senior Designer, Quicksand Design
Vice Provost for International Affairs and Director of Honors Program, University of Cincinnati
Managing Director LA, Think Kaleidoscope
Founder, Doors of Perception
Associate Dean, University of Cincinnati, DAAP
Community Development Specialist, The Center for Great Neighborhoods
“We absolutely believe that innovative thinking can and does change the world,
so we were thrilled by DI’s commitment that the brightest ideas should not be reserved for the luxury of the wealthiest few,
but should answer the great challenges of our era.”
– Sam and Elizabeth Hatchett, DI donors
Two Easy Ways to Make a Donation to Design Impact
Design Impact is a registered 501(c) 3 organization, and all donations are tax-deductible.
If you are inspired by the work, value the power of design, or relate to the issues we are tackling, we hope you’ll consider making a donation.
1) To make a secure online one-time or re-occurring contribution to Design Impact - click the pretty yellow donate button below. You can still donate without a paypal account!
2) If you would like to contribute by check please send your contribution to:
205 West Fourth Street, Suite 1140
Cincinnati, OH 45202
For questions about making a donation, please contact Bizzy Young at Bizg@d-impact.com.
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Through Social Media
Like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter. Feel free to post links, videos, and ideas about design thinking and social innovation on our facebook or tweet us @DesignImpactOrg. We’re all for making new friends!
Through Amazon Smile
You can support us by shopping through Amazon Smile and entering Design Impact as the nonprofit you’d like to support. Using Amazon Smile means Amazon will donate 0.5% of the price of your purchases to DI. It’s the same Amazon, just with the benefits of donating money to charitable organizations!
Contribute Your Skills
We’ve worked with businesses and individuals who donate time and resources to drive innovation where it’s needed most. In the past DI has worked with passionate people from companies such as Procter & Gamble, Kirsch CPA, We Have Become Vikings, SEEK, Powerhouse Factories, Kaleidoscope, and others. If you or your team is interested in collaborating with Design Impact, please email Bizzy Young at Bizg@d-impact.org.
Become an Intern
We’re proud to have had talented interns from Brown University, Rhode Island School of Design, DAAP, and Xavier University.
If you are interested in becoming an intern or participating in a co-op experience, please email Bizzy Young at Bizg@d-impact.org.
Join the team
Thank you for your interest in applying for a job at Design Impact! Right now there are no available positions but please check back soon.