Design for Change

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Design for Change: Empowering children with the "I CAN" mindset

IndiaAhmedabad, India
Year Founded:
Project Stage:
$100,000 - $250,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Design for Change is a powerful yet simple idea where children use a Design Thinking Formula of Feel, Imagine, Do and Share (FIDS) to bring change in their own schools and communities, and in the process build 21st century skills of empathy, collaboration and critical thinking.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

Children become role models of change. Children believe that they are not helpless, that change is possible and they can drive it.
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Present schools focus largely on academic outcomes and neglect whole child development. This widens the gap between school learning and real world situations. Our children are being prepared to replicate the current world scenario rather than making it better for all. There is lack of structured curricula to nurture innovation and creativity to children. Children are drilled to fear uncertainty and failure instead of learning from them.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Design for Change curriculum has simplified design thinking principles for children. The framework of FEEL, IMAGINE, DO and SHARE builds empathy in children, for them to engage as active participants in their communities. It redefines failure as prototyping and gives them the confidence to be innovative and find creative solutions for problems that bother them. Children become change makers. Teachers are able to experience the capabilities of their own children as they listen to their voices and ideas. Feel gets children to empathize and engage with a problem, they imagine a solution and do the act of change. Through sharing their story they inspire others. FIDS provides a structured curriculum to teach and assess key 21st century skills.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

In 2014 in Cameroon, Sister Vicky asked her class of 5 years olds to think about what bothered them. Children came up with various issues and voted. They were most concerned about their friends injuring themselves while playing football with bottles. They worked together to imagine solutions and chose the most practical and long-term one: create a ball themselves to play with. Their teacher helped them test the physical properties of various materials by bouncing all the different balls they had made. Children found out that plastic bounced the best and they went out to collect plastic from their homes and neighbourhoods and recycled it to make a ball for their friends to play with. Through a simple process, children learnt that they could.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

The FIDS framework has been used by children in over 30 countries to lead more than 10,000 stories of change. In 2009, DFC partnered with The GoodWork Project at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, U.S.A. to gather feedback from the participating students and teachers. The results reaffirmed the impact of the DFC curriculum. It showed clearly the development of skills like collaboration, creative thinking & empathy. Ongoing research suggests that the confidence developed through the project, improves academic scores as well. This has made DFC I CAN School Challenge a yearly feature for many schools.Teachers share that facilitating DFC projects help them discover strengths of their students, develop faith in their capabilities and get to know what the children think and feel about the world around them. According to them, children feel more responsible and confident.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

DFC is advocating for inclusion of design thinking in education. We are currently prototyping a 30 hour DFC curriculum for eighth grade students in schools across India, USA, Brazil, Taiwan, Spain and Philippines.Our country partners are translating the curriculum and spreading its reach.Research is being conducted simultaneously to study impact of learning design thinking on social-emotional well being, academic outcomes and teacher pedagogy. This will make a strong case for linkages between social emotional well being and academic outcomes, promoting a pedagogy based on empathy & creativity.

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

DFC aims to reach out to and garner participation from more schools, keeping it free of charge for them. Revenue generation will occur through workshops, seminars, and celebratory events. Further we would like to take the Design for Change curriculum to policy makers to advocate for its inclusion in all education boards. This would establish our credibility to the schools and will allow us to develop a sustainable revenue generation model.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

There are other organisations like I GO labs, Catalyst by Design, HFLI which are also working towards integrating Design Thinking in education. However, because DFC is an open source idea, our reach is much larger and we have been able to build networks in more than 30 countries. As FIDS framework was designed from children's perspective, its simplicity allows it to be applied immediately and effectively. DFC has been able to reach children across geographical, socio-economic, linguistic and urban-rural barriers. This inclusive spirit and reach is what sets DFC apart.

Founding Story

Design for Change draws a lot of inspiration from the life and work of Mahatma Gandhi. DESIGN FOR CHANGE was conceptualized over a phone conversation in February 2009. When talking about the Joy of Giving Week (a festival across India to promote volunteerism and donation), it became apparent that only adults were expected to contribute. What about the children? It was then that the idea for Design for Change was conceptualized. In the very first year, students from 700 schools in India submitted their stories of change. This showed us that when a community believes in its children, they can generate creative ideas to address its’ problem. Being the change, changes the being.


Kiran Bir Sethi- Founder/CEO; Pranay Desai- Head of Design and Technology; Anshul Aggarwal- Strategist and Advisor; Ruchi Junnarkar- Global Catalyst; Parul Patel- Administrative Head; Nilufer Siganporia- Head of PR and HR; Akanksha Agarwal- Head of Research; Vishwa Srivastava- Head of Social Media; short term interns for marketing, content development, research and advocacy.
About You
About You
First Name


Last Name


About Your Project
Organization Name
How long has your organization been operating?

Please select

Organization Country

, GJ, Ahmedabad

Country where this project is creating social impact
What awards or honors has the project received?
Funding: How is your project financial supported?

Individuals, Foundations, NGOs, Businesses.


INDEX AWARD: Design to improve Life in 2011
Rockefeller Foundation Award for Innovation in 2012
Ashoka Fellowship
Fetzer Institute
Patricia Blunt Koldyke Fellowship in 2014

Primary Target Age Group

6 - 12, 13 - 17.

Your role in Education


Please specify which of the following best applies:

I am applying on behalf of a particular program or initiative.

The type of school(s) your solution is affiliated with (if applicable)

Public (tuition-free), Private (tuition-based), Home-School.

Intervention Focus

Curricular, Extracurricular, Community, Policy or Analysis.

Does your project utilize any of the innovative design principles below?

Putting Children in Charge: Giving children a voice and cultivating agency via experiential learning, project-based learning, and civic engagement.

Is your project targeted at solving any of the following key barriers?

One size fits all fits none: Students are disengaged and not being prepared for "real life."

What key learning outcomes does your work seek to improve?

21st Century Skills of Empathy, Collaboration, Creativity and Critical Thinking. And improvement in academic outcomes.

Secondary Form
PROGRAM DESIGN CLARITY: We are hungry to know more about what exactly your model consists of. Please succinctly list a) what main activities are you doing with your beneficiaries, b) where you carry out the activities? c) how often? d) for how many hours? e) who delivers the services? and f) any other brief details

a. Design thinking workshops, year-long curriculum, school challenge, celebration and publication of stories
b. across 35 countries
c. throughout the year
d. different activities have different time durations. However we keep our activities simple and less time intensive.
e. Dfc trained professionals

INSPIRATION: What do you consider the most important trends or evidence that inspire you to believe the world is ready to Re-imagine Learning? Please elaborate.

Technology has made knowledge an open source entity, children no longer have to wait for an adult to be introduced to new content, in both positive and negative ways, they are empowered to find out things on their own. Moreover with creativity taking precedence in businesses has also pushed for a similar focus in education as well. Within Indian context, National Curriculum Framework 2005, has been able to emphasise on learning through curiosity. The elimination of assessment through end year exams in India has allowed for fear free learning and joyful classrooms.

LEARNING THROUGH PLAY: What does “learning through play” mean to you and why it is a must-have, instead of a nice to have?

Learning should be a natural process rather than being a forced activity or a burden on children. Just as naturally as children enjoy playing, they should be allowed to have the joyful opportunities of learning. Learning through play builds from children’s curiosity and gives them a chance to discover their own strenghts and passion. Learning through play allows children to experiment, to fail and try again as it removes all their fear. This has a positive impact on their social emotional well-being as well. Therefore learning through play is the only true means to learning.

SUSTAINABILITY: Please list a quick breakdown of your funding, indicating the percentage that comes from each source.

Private Individuals: 20 percent
Corporates: 60 percent
Awards/Grants: 20 percent

MODEL: How does your mission relate to your business model (i.e. Non-profit, for-profit or hybrid)?

Design for Change is a non-profit initiative. Our basic content on the design process and participation is available in different languages for free and is open to all for development. We believe that everybody can be a changemaker and should have access to the tools to be inspired and take action to shape the world around them. To sustain our work, we have put differentiated prices.

FUNDING PRIORITIES: If your organization were given $20K in unrestricted funding today, how would you use it? Why?

DFC has developed a 30 hour curriculum for teaching design thinking to eighth grade students, we would like to spend the funding in refining the curricula and developing it further for middle school grades. We would also like to use the funds for research on the impact of DFC Curriculum.

PARTNERSHIPS: Tell us about your partnerships that enhance your approach.

Design for Change became a global movement because of its committed partners across the world. We believe in forging partnerships for growth and therefore DFC is an open source idea. Within India, we are able to reach 30,000 schools through our education NGO partners who implement DFC in their own schools.

COLLABORATIONS: Have you considered or initiated partnerships with any of the other Challenge Pacesetters? If so, please share.

We have initiated collaborations with whom we got to know through the Ashoka Network. They also work on empowering children by giving them an opportunity to create a better world through mapping a problem.

VISION: If you had unlimited funding, and you could fast forward 15 years to when your program has been able to achieve wild success - what will it have achieved?

DFC Curriculum would have achieved incorporation in education curricula across the world allowing children to graduate with tools and confidence to make the world a better place.

IMPACT - KEY METRICS: Please list the key data points that you would cite as evidence that you are able to achieve lasting learning outcomes. Please also share one data point for which you most hope to see better results over time

DFC Curriculum transforms both students and teachers. It builds the I CAN spirit in children, and allows teachers to see the potential in their students through the change they are able to bring. This brings significant changes in the classroom environment. We would like to gather more data on the manner in which children learn 21st century skills while doing the DFC curriculum.

IMPACT - REPORTING SAMPLE: Please attach any examples of your impact reporting. [optional]:
RESEARCH AND EVIDENCE: Please link or attach any research or evidence resource you are open to sharing more widely [optional]. Building research and evidence is a key aim of this initiative, and the resources you share may be chosen for listing in the Center for Education Innovations library:
SOURCE: If applicable - who created the research or evidence you are choosing to share? :
IMPACT - REACH: How many people did your project directly engage in programmatic activities in the last year?

50,001 to 100,000

STUDY: Has an external evaluation or study been conducted of your organization?


Other (please specify)
Number of Employees:

Fewer than 10

Number of Volunteers:

Fewer than 10

APPROACHES: Given the complexity of play, it is not surprising that there have been numerous research attempts to categorize the different types and approaches! Please indicate which of the following your project focuses on.

Creating a Supportive Socio-Emotional Environment, Providing a Range of Opportunities (providing the equipment and materials needed for various types of play), Educational Structuring (developing playful projects within educational contexts).

Other (please specify)
AFFILIATION: Please specify if your organization has any existing affiliations with the LEGO Group.