As part of our first challenge project this fall, the Conference Design Team was presented with the design question, “How might we co-design a leadership experience that piques the interest and engagement of high-school youth city-wide?” This question propelled us as we connected with students and beyond to listen and learn through utilizing a human-centered design approach. We met with students from around the Detroit Public Schools Community District (DPSCD) to discuss their experiences with leadership development, conference setting, and programming.

“We recognized the unique capabilities of the students we listened and engaged with,  and sought to highlight them as we designed our deliverables and communicated our ideas with the DPSCD administration.”

While all of us have our own experiences with leadership development and our own perceptions of what best practices might be, we loved how much more we learned when we took the time to connect with DPSCD students and administrators. We were heard that students recognized a difference in access to resources and programs between neighborhood schools and examination schools. We also learned that the most desired giveaway item at the conference were scholarships and tangible tools because students were interested in financial investments from DPSCD to support their growth. Considering these insights, we realized that it would be game-changing if we could propose a process that more thoughtfully allows all schools and students in the district to be equitably represented at SEE 2020. We calculated a strategic distribution of students from all of the schools in the Detroit Public Schools Community District that can be scaled up or down, depending on the size of SEE 2020 and subsequent conferences. To address the desire for tangible takeaways from the conference we also proposed to gift them with business cards that would be personalized by their school colors for them to exchange with one another to get used to the idea of networking and forming new connections with their peers along with a comprehensive scholarship guide to support student-led organizations and their future plans. 

DPSCD Challenge Conference Design Team: Lizzie DePentu, Jillian Hurst, Zane Birenbaum, Kaitlyn Miklovich and Charnae Sanders