Newsletter: Thinking & Acting Like a Designer

December 2017 Newsletter


New IDEO + WISE Report

A new report by WISE and IDEO asks “How do the processes and mindsets of design thinking help to answer questions about how schools are designed, how educators
can work together, and how students might contribute and benefit?”

In the foreword to “Thinking & Acting Like a Designer: How design thinking supports innovation in K-12 education,” Stavros N. Yannouka, CEO of WISE, proposes “With the education environment, in all its elements, poised at an inflection point, design thinking brings flexibility and pragmatism to the process of responding to local, even individual needs and goals.”

Overall, the publication highlights three key conclusions:

1. Design thinking can be used to fundamentally reimagine school models and systems;
2. Design thinking supports change in school culture by transforming how educators work together; and
3. Design thinking encourages student development of twenty-first century skills.

Download the report and read the authors’ five recommendations to contribute to bringing design thinking to the challenges of education, globally. HFLI is featured starting on page 71.



Teaming Up with UM Students
Our fifth project with the University of Michigan Ross School’s Revitalization & Business program is underway!

R&B strives for impact by contributing to Detroit organizations through student-run consulting projects and motivating UM students to choose Detroit as a career and lifestyle destination.

To increase their understanding of HFLI and build a firm foundation for the 2017-18 project, we invited our current R&B project team members and peers to participate in a 2-hour human-centered design activity.

Pairs checked assumptions during an icebreaker that challenged them to design a social media profile for someone they just met. They then explored the history of the Design Thinking process and HFLI’s work to set the stage for a hands-on activity. Ultimately, groups used a framework to imagine university futures and the impact on stakeholders, and each participant created a narrative and prototype object that might be useful in that imagined future.

“I’ve been looking forward to getting to know HFLI for some time now and this introduction to the organization blew me away,” said Megan Nesbeth, a first-year MBA student.


Empowering Teens
This weekend and next, nearly 50 students from Detroit-area high schools will participate in HFLI JumpStart.

This dynamic learning experience features the new Ford STEAM Lab curriculum and a “hackathon” learning environment. HFLI JumpStart empowers youth to take charge of the impact they want to create for themselves and for others. Through work in teams and alongside mentors who are entrepreneurs and social innovators, youth gain in-demand skills and mindsets that position them as emerging change makers in school, at work, and for their community.

All participants attend at no cost thanks to the generous support of the Bank of America Charitable Foundation. To learn about bringing HFLI JumpStart to your school or organization, email us at


Walmart Foundation Grant
Thanks to new grant from the Walmart Foundation, even more Michigan high school students will have the opportunity participate in HFLI’s youth programs. The $45,000 grant will support four multi-day HFLI JumpStart sessions in 2018.

Walmart Foundation’s grant complements recent financial support for HFLI JumpStart from Ford Motor Company Fund, the Bank of America Charitable Foundation, the Best Buy Foundation, and the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan through the Detroit Auto Dealers Association (DADA) Charitable Foundation Fund. Read the press release


High School Entrepreneurs
Fa-la-la-la-la! Students at Henry Ford Academy: Alameda School for Art + Design in San Antonio are applying their skills and entrepreneurial experiences to enrich
learning opportunities at their school.

They’ve created a series of cards and clever tote bags that are for sale at the school’s holiday pop-up shop. Proceeds will help fund new art equipment.








Student Voice
A new article from Michigan Nightlight and Model D highlights a unique Henry Ford Academy: School for Creative Studies design project, and the work of other exemplary Detroit youth-focused organizations.

“The design competition and art programming at the high school is one among a plethora of art programs across the city that offer young Detroiters rich, textured avenues for artistic expression about contemporary racial, cultural, and social justice issues. Through these programs, students come to view these complex topics more clearly and work through their own feelings,” writes Kimberly Hayes Taylor. (Photo by Nick Hagen) Read the article


Office Makeover
It’s bright, modern, functional — and just more “us”!

With help from our partners at The Henry Ford and Rightsize Facility we’ve taken a huge step in the process to transform our existing space at The Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation to better meet the needs of individuals and teams.

Working with a tight budget and huge respect for the character of what was once a library, our space now features new paint, carpet and work centers — with more tweaking to follow!

Send us an email at to schedule your visit to catch up and check it out.


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