A City of Neighborhoods

Engaging youth as "citizen designers"

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Building on its successful professional development program on community-based design education, Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum remade A City of Neighborhoods: Design your ‘Hood into an afterschool program for the youth of its partner organization, Dream Yard.

The program guided students through the design process including:

  • What is Design?
  • Neighborhood Investigation
  • Understanding Change over Time
  • Problem Identification and Brainstorming
  • Prototyping
  • Sharing Solutions

Through the pilot program, over 30 teens from the Bronx and Manhattan attended workshops led by architects, landscape designers, and planners, where they examined the history of New York City’s design decisions and design interventions, and how they continue to impact and shape the city.

Cooper-Hewitt co-developed resources with The New York Public Library that enabled youth to conduct thorough investigations into New York City neighborhoods and address community-focused issues. Working in groups, the students identified a local design problem, developed a potential solution, and created plans and models to work through their ideas that culminated with a presentation of their proposed solutions and prototypes to a panel of clients, designers and community leaders.

During the program, Cooper-Hewitt and the partner organizations also explored and experimented with different technologies, such as mobile devices, learning games and social media, for use by youth and member organizations of the network.

A City of Neighborhoods was funded as a “demonstration project” of New Youth City Learning Network’s first Request for Proposal in 2011.

Lead Organization:
Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum

Partner Organizations:
Dream Yard ,

Project Goal:
Using local New York City neighborhoods as a setting for project-based, real-world learning activities for youth.

Project Tags:
Advocacy & Social Justice, Design, Media Literacy & Production

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