“There’s a better way. Find it.”
Thomas Edison’s timeless and inspiring quote embodies the mindset of visionaries in education, communities and business.

HFLI envisions, designs and delivers programs and immersive experiences that help learners to think creatively, work collaboratively with others, and implement innovations. We mobilize and partner with organizations around the world with a shared vision of empowering people to create in, with, and for their community.

Our approach to redesigning how we learn and lead includes Design Thinking as a collection of mindsets and methods that allow us to creatively explore problems, then reframe and act on them. Working with the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford University (“the d.school”), we have refined the Design Thinking process to explicitly develop innovators and resourceful lifelong learners.



K-20 Education


HFLI’s reformative model for learning equips K-12 students with the skills to imagine and innovate a brighter future and make the effective transition from the classroom to college and beyond.

We have a strong history of removing barriers to equitable opportunities by working with educators and other learners in urban areas to build skills for innovating, including the ability to think creatively, work collaboratively with others, and implement innovations.

schools-02Our approach promotes empathy, authentic hands-on learning, skills in critical thinking and problem solving, and connecting the world of school to the world of work and community.

In 2019, our impact in education extends to serving students and staff members at four urban Henry Ford Academies, novice educators in university teacher preparation programs, participants in our Summer Design Thinking Workshops, as well as learners at schools around the world where we provide site coaching, immersive learning experiences, and curriculum.


Youth Programs

Teachers and community leaders alike seek accessible, high-quality curricula and resources to implement powerful youth leadership experiences.

HFLI is responding to that need with Ford STEAM Lab. Developed in partnership with Ford Motor Company Fund and recently updated to include new resources, this flexible curriculum features a six-part “hackathon” style frame that can put deeper learning in the hands of young people, launch their long-term career interests, and empower them with critical workforce mindsets and skills.


Working in partnership with funders and local organizations, HFLI implements Ford STEAM Lab as an out-of-school program in Detroit. Through work in teams and alongside mentors who are entrepreneurs and social innovators, middle and high school youth gain in-demand skills and mindsets that position them as emerging change makers in school, at work, and for their community.

HFLI also provides Ford STEAM Lab-related training and implementation support to interested organizations, schools and districts.

Workplace Learning

Imagination and the ability to innovate are critical skills for business success and a global economy. Building on our success in the K-20 Education sector, HFLI has become a learning partner to a range of businesses and community organizations.

Our immersive workplace learning experiences utilize Design Thinking methods and processes to increase an employee’s capacity to identify and develop responses to challenges, contribute to a culture of innovation, and lead innovation in the workplace and community.

For example, HFLI leads the design and implementation of Ford’s Thirty Under 30 program. Now in its fourth year, this groundbreaking initiative develops young employees’ Design Thinking skills and mindsets that empower them to develop a solution for a local non-profit, while gaining a process for innovation in their work and personal life.

HFLI’s Social Innovation Studio was piloted at Ford Motor Company as a partnership between Ford Fund and HFLI to help advance the most promising projects conceived by Thirty Under 30 fellows, grant winners in the Bill Ford Better World Challenge and nonprofits.

HFLI now offers Social Innovation Studio to foundations and nonprofits worldwide that want to move from transactional to transformational. This immersive experience changes how people approach social impact to boost each project’s chances for success, increase its impact, and further community prosperity.