NYC Dept of Ed – Youth Think Tank: Supporting High Schoolers to Tackle Local Challenges

Social Impact Strategy
About This Project


Developing a Design Thinking Curriculum for High School Students


The NYC Department of Education’s Office of Postsecondary Readiness Office Career and Technical Education team (OPSR CTE) is invested in preparing young people for the changing college and career landscape of the 21st century. To help high school students thrive in diverse career paths, OPSR CTE provides opportunities for them to learn competitive skills and engage in real-world issues. TYTHE was brought on to create a summer course, called Youth Think Tank, which supports students in engaging in this type of hands-on and cutting-edge learning.




TYTHE developed a 6-week curriculum that uses the Design Thinking methodology to lead students through a process of exploring an issue in their neighborhood, empathizing with those it impacts, and brainstorming potential ways to address it. To build the curriculum we used a human-centered approach, sourcing the expertise of Youth Think Tank teachers and OPSR CTE staff. In a series of interviews, we gathered insight on the topics most important to the success of today’s students and the practices that create a productive classroom environment. Utilizing this information, the curriculum includes a series of ready-made lessons for teachers, activity materials, slide presentations, and a student handbook. In addition, TYTHE led a training for all teachers involved and facilitated an introductory one-day boot camp for 100 students to kickstart the program.




Comprehensive Design Thinking Curriculum 

Through the support of newly trained teachers and a comprehensive curriculum students are shepereded through a series of Design Thinking phases. They conduct ethnographic research, collaboratively brainstorm, prototype solutions, get feedback, and pitch their ideas to both Youth Think Tank students and professionals working on the issue they are addressing.


21st Century Skills

During Youth Think Tank, high schoolers gain confidence in their creative problem-solving abilities, propelling them forward to reach their academic and professional goals. By tackling issues critical to their community, and doing so in a way that is collaborative and empathetic, students are prepared to be innovative thinkers and doers. To date, the program has been implemented during the summer of school year 2018-2019 and 2019-2020.



Client: NYC Department of Education Office of Postsecondary Readiness


Collaborators: Kristina Drury, Michaela Kramer, Hillary Clark


Year: SY 2018-2019 and SY 2019-2020