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Community Design Challenge is both a professional development training program and a real-life problem solving experiment. Participants go through a 6-part workshop series exploring the steps of The Design Thinking Process, while concurrently working in a team of 4 participants to design a solution to a real-world problem faced by the Community Partner (our participating local businesses and nonprofits).

Our Goal

To equip participants with a more resilient skill base using the “Design Thinking” process  to navigate today’s challenging world while also delivering a more resilient solution for our Community Partners ~ a win-win for all.

  • 6 workshops + homework throughout the program
  • Approx 7-10 hours of work each week 
  • Up to 16 participants will be selected
  • Participants work in teams of 3-4
  • Team Facilitators guide teams throughout the project
  • Expect both remote and In-person classes & field work 
  • $2,400 stipend per participant, distributed in two payments.

Who is this program for?

Our Fall 2023 program is open to anyone who is interested in growing their professional practice through a deeper understanding & exploration of the Design Thinking Process, and qualifies as low-to-moderate according to state guidelines. This could include (but is not limited to): design and creative professionals, business owners or employees, entrepreneurs, freelancers, non-profit staff, and community members. We encourage people to apply who identify as BIPOC, POC, women and LGBTQIA+



The Design Challenge Program is grant funded through the Real Jobs Rhode Island. Participants must be able to prove that they meet these criteria for eligibility:

  • Participants cannot be students.
  • Participants must live or work in the State of Rhode Island.
  • Participants must be low-to-moderate income, defined as total household income that equals or is below the following limits:

Statewide Income Limits for Rhode Island 2022-2023 (Based on Total Household Income)


Selection Criteria+

Applicants will be reviewed and the final participants will be chosen based on the following criteria:

  • Willingness to address change within the community.
  • Expressed benefit that the program will provide the participant.
  • Experience in working on teams and/or openness to a collaborative design process.
  • Availability to participate fully in the program timeline.
  • Enthusiasm and openness to dig into a time intensive and exciting process!
Program Timeline+
  • Application Launch: 8/7/23
  • Info Session: TBD 
  • Applications Due: 9/6/23 
  • Notification to Awardees: 9/15/23 
  • Program Dates:
    • Orientation: Wednesday 10/4 (time & location TBD) 
    • Workshop  1: Design Thinking Process + Teamwork – 10/6, 1-5pm (in person in PVD) 
    • Workshop 2: Design Justice – 10/11, 4-6pm (zoom) 
    • Workshop 3: Design Research & User Experience – 10/13, 2-4pm (zoom) 
    • Workshop 4: Synthesis, Ideation and Prototyping – 10/20, 1-5pm (in person in PVD) 
    • Workshop 5:  Creative Facilitation & Public Engagement – 10/27, 2-4pm (zoom) 
    • Workshop 6: The Final Stages: Iteration & Implementation – 11/4, 1-5pm (in person in PVD) 
    • Projects Due + Final Presentations – 11/14 (time & location TBD) 

*Final schedule will be confirmed upon acceptance.