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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT DESIGN FELLOWSHIP

Who can participate in the CityBridge Design Fellowship?

  • Teams that want to start or grow a social enterprise that supports rigorous and equitable public education.
  • Teams at existing DC Public Schools and DC public charter schools that want to design or redesign an element of their school program.
  • Teams that want to begin the work of designing a new public charter school in Washington, DC.
  • Participants who are able to commit four to six hours between each workshop to apply the tools with students and the school community.
  • The Fellowship is designed for teams, not for individuals. We encourage teams consisting of three members.
  • Teams within schools should consist of faculty, staff, and leaders working at DC Public Schools or DC Public Charter Schools. Teams can also include a central office or non-school-based staff.
  • Teams focused on building a new school or non-school venture should have at least one member of the team be based in a school or work directly with students on a regular basis.

Do I have to apply as a team? Can CityBridge help me find team members?

  • Yes, you must apply as a team. We’ve learned from experience that the work of designing and scaling a solution is more successful if team-based. However, being in the process of building your team at the time of application is acceptable.
  • No, unfortunately, we do not have the capacity at this time to help participants form teams. However, the first stage of the CityBridge Incubator, Design Studio, is designed for individuals.

What will participants do in the Design Fellowship?

The focus of Design Fellowship is piloting solutions by learning an equitable design process. Specifically, you will:

  • Explore and define a student-centered problem and the conditions that shape it
  • Design two pilots to test, adapt, and scale innovative and equity-centered solutions
  • Draft a theory of change that explains how the activities of a team or an organization fit together to create the outcomes they want
  • Craft personal stories about their design journey in order to build a strong coalition of supporters for their work
  • Learn, collaborate, and connect with a community of like-minded educators, entrepreneurs, and leaders

What will participants create and walk away with? 

  • Two pilot plans that will help your team understand the problem and advance a proposed solution
  • A theory of change
  • A set of storytelling tools and a plan for building a supporting coalition
  • Learnings and insights from testing

 What follow-up support is available to participants?

  • Participants are eligible for grants up to $5,000 to support their ongoing pilot work during and after the Design Fellowship experience. Participants can also receive ongoing support to continue piloting following the workshops through our communities of practice, Targeted Networks.

What is the time commitment?

  • The pre-work for Design Fellowship will take participants approximately three to four hours prior to the first workshop.
  • The four workshops will be full-day experiences, typically running from 8:30 am to 3:00 pm EST. 
  • Monthly applied design work and coaching sessions will take participants between four and six hours.
  • Two hour-long check-ins during the semester following Fellowship where coaches will check in on pilot progress and learnings.

Do team members need to quit their jobs to participate?

  • No. The Fellowship is specifically designed as job-embedded learning so that teams can learn, test, and explore alongside learners before moving to larger-scale work.

How much funding do participants receive?

  • Teams are eligible for up to $5,000 to support piloting. Teams must track all grant spending and work with a coach to access the resources. More information about the grant application and process will be available after teams apply.

What happens if a team’s pilot project doesn’t work?

  • At CityBridge, we believe that piloting is a core practice for equity-centered design. Pilots are experiments, big and small, that are systematically designed to answer a set of questions.  In our activation of equitable methods and human-centered design, we invoke our participants’ humanity as well as the principles of scientific experimentation. Piloting allows innovators to merge equity and rigor, pushing towards a level of honesty about their assumptions and bias and opening space to engage in learning that can improve processes or outcomes. Through pilots, which we see as low-risk opportunities to learn, innovators are able to “try-on” a solution aimed at addressing inequities within our education system. More explicitly, because racism and inequity are products of design and can therefore be redesigned, we help our program participants apply equitable design principles in the process of building anew. Pilots are structured opportunities to redesign.
  • The purpose of piloting is to learn. If a pilot doesn’t produce the student experience that the team intended, then a well-designed set of measures will help teams learn why it didn’t work the way they hypothesized. That, in turn, will help teams iterate and build better solutions over time. Learn more about what this can look like over the course of the Design Fellowship in this example of the equity design journey for Bard Early College HS.

What kinds of projects have fellows worked on in the past?

  • Dig into more details of what different types of pilots look like for teams with this pilot templates tool

Do you have additional questions? Please contact us.

LEARN MORE ABOUT DESIGN FELLOWSHIP