September 28, 2021

Lost by Design: Designing From the Margins Toolkit

By Hailly T.N. Korman | Liz McNamee | Bonnie O’Keefe

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In too many conversations about how to meet young people’s educational, housing, health, and other needs, one voice is critically missing: those most impacted. If communities want to equitably serve young people, problem solving must start with the young people and families who are experiencing the issue.

Designing From the Margins is a new Bellwether Education Partners toolkit for practitioners in schools, districts, community nonprofits, and other child-serving agencies. The toolkit shares design strategies for problem solving that start by engaging those who are most directly affected by a problem to create an effective, equitable, and sustainable solution. By starting with an equity lens and pulling in those usually left out of the problem-solving equation, communities can create solutions that meet everyone’s needs. A structured design process, with concrete facilitation tools and examples to use along the way, keeps the problem-solving process moving forward.

Designing From the Margins uses three core design principles to structure a human-centered, inclusive process:

  1. Design from the Margins: Emphasize and include the perspectives of people with the greatest needs
  2. Build Understanding: Bring stakeholders together to foster partnership, empathy, and strong relationships
  3. Shift Mindsets: Develop new ways of thinking to transform practice and sustain solutions

This toolkit and its companion two-page reference summary are intended primarily for groups of diverse stakeholders that serve children and families across different organizations and agencies, such as schools, foster care systems, homeless shelters, or health care providers; but the resources can be adapted to address a range of needs and services. Incorporating human-centered, collaborative design strategies can help any nonprofit, government agency, or organization improve outcomes in the community.

Check out additional Bellwether resources, below:

Download Designing From the Margins and its two-page reference summary or read it in the viewer below, and visit Bellwether’s Ahead of the Heard blog to read more about how this framework is applied in the field.


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