“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 imagines, designs and delivers programs to help people become more innovative, creative and resourceful in how they think and learn. We mobilize and partner with organizations around the world to empower learners to empower innovators and resourceful learners with the tools, skills and capacity to empathize, ideate, create and adapt as contributing members of thriving schools, communities and workplaces.

Our approach to redesigning how we learn includes Design Thinking, a human-centered creative problem-solving process. 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 working with 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 2018, we are serving nearly 1,900 students and 175 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 and immersive learning experiences.


Upcoming Programs

Design Thinking for Deeper Student Learning – Detroit

  A 3-day experience* that provides K-20 educators with an in-depth introduction to design thinking and how it can be …

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Intro to Design Thinking for Educators

Design Thinking for Deeper Student Learning – San Antonio TX

A 3-day experience* that provides K-20 educators with an in-depth introduction to design thinking and how it can be used …

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Design Thinking + Systems Thinking

Design Thinking for Stronger Schools – Detroit MI

  A 2-day experience* for school leaders and transformational educators who want to use design thinking to address a specific …

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Youth Programs

Out-of-school programs can put the power of deeper learning in the hands of young people, launch their long-term career interests, and empower them with critical workforce mindsets and skills for social mobility.

HFLI is the curriculum provider and a thought partner in the development of Ford STEAM Lab, a digital blended-learning curriculum that feeds the STEM pipeline by taking students through a six-part “hackathon” style process of exposing them to careers in STEM and tech entrepreneurship. HFLI now conducts Ford STEAM Lab out-of-school youth programs and provides related training and implementation support to interested organizations, schools and districts.

HFLI’s JumpStart is an out-of-school program that empowers youth to take charge of the impact they want to create for themselves and for others. It provides a brief introduction to entrepreneurship through the lens of Design Thinking over three days. Through work in teams and alongside mentors who are entrepreneurs and social innovators, youth ages 16-21 gain in-demand skills and mindsets that position them as emerging change makers in school, at work, and for their community.

Workplace Learning

Imagination and the ability to innovate are critical skills for business success and a global economy. Top employers are looking for people who can make decisions and solve problems. Building on our success in the K-20 Education sector, HFLI has become a learning partner to a range of businesses and community organizations, including Ford Motor Company Fund.

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

HFLI leads the design and implementation of Ford’s Thirty Under 30 initiative. Now in its third year, Thirty Under 30 is a groundbreaking initiative in which young employees gain 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. The newly announced Social Innovation Studio, is a partnership between Ford Fund and HFLI that will help advance he most promising projects conceived by Thirty Under 30 fellows, grant winners in the Bill Ford Better World Challenge or nonprofits. The studio’s goal is to boost each project’s chances for success, increase its impact, and further community prosperity.