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Stanford University’s to bring its Designing for Social Systems workshop to Columbus

First time the program has been offered away from the Stanford campus

COLUMBUS, OH (February 7, 2020) — The Columbus Foundation and the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford University (informally known as the have announced an unprecedented partnership to bring innovative problem-solving techniques to nonprofits in the Columbus region. The brings students and faculty from radically different backgrounds together to develop innovative, human-centered solutions to real-world challenges.

Through an intensive, interactive five-day workshop, approximately 40 leaders in Columbus’ nonprofit sector will come together to engage with Stanford’s Designing for Social Systems teaching team and coaches to learn the philosophy, techniques, and tactics behind design thinking, an approach to problem solving that engages the end user throughout solution development.

During the five-day workshop, participants will learn how to use design tools to put people at the center of one’s work, to seek understanding and insight through first-hand design research, and experiment in designing more effective programs.

The goal of the workshop is for nonprofit leaders to learn and experience human-centered design and systems thinking practices that will make them more dynamic, creative, and effective.

“The Columbus Foundation knows that our nonprofit partners are integral to the overall health of our community. An investment in this work is an investment in the strength and well-being of our entire region.”


Participants can expect a “take it home” focus to the workshop, learning practical applications to illustrate the theoretical lessons and working on teams to address a real-life challenge the Columbus social sector faces.

“This is an incredible opportunity for the 80 human and social service organizations we serve, and of course for nonprofits as a whole,” said Michael Corey, Executive Director of the Human Service Chamber of Franklin County. “As our sector strives to unleash the power of human potential, we will benefit greatly from bringing this internationally renowned design lens to help us create effective solutions to reshape our complex systems in the Columbus Region.”

The has held multiple Designing for Social Systems workshops that participants have traveled across the world to attend, but the program has never before left the Stanford campus.

Previous Designing for Social Systems workshop at Stanford University's

"We are thrilled to have the opportunity to come to Columbus,” said Thomas Both, Director of the Designing for Social Systems Program at the Stanford

People from all over the country and world attend these workshops at Stanford; we are excited to partner with The Columbus Foundation to offer a place-based workshop to practitioners in Columbus and facilitate a shared ability and language for this human, exploratory, and collaborative way of working,” said Both.

The workshop is part of The Columbus Foundation’s Human:Kind program, which is led by Principal Consultant, Heather Tsavaris. It will run from August 2-6. Nonprofit organizations must submit applications to be eligible to participate. More information can be found here.

About The Columbus Foundation

The Columbus Foundation serves nearly 3,000 individuals, families, and businesses that have created unique funds and planned gifts to make a difference in the lives of others through the most effective philanthropy possible. The Columbus Foundation is Your Trusted Philanthropic Advisor® and one of the top 10 largest community foundations in the United States.

February 7, 2020