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Exploring the opportunity spaces of education and sustainability with a focus on Food - for creating innovative change through design in public e… Read More
Exploring the opportunity spaces of education and sustainability with a focus on Food - for creating innovative change through design in public education - beyond simply raising awareness. DMBA in Design Strategy design team: Ann Rich, Fangshu Zhu, Payal Patel, Pamela Steiner, Sue Pollock Read Less
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DMBA in Design Strategy design team:
Ann Rich, Fangshu Zhu, Payal Patel, Pamela Steiner, Sue Pollock
 
Project Description:
Flourish Partners is a business strategy project to deliver a design solution to generate positive impact and change within the public education sector via the lens of sustainability.  The project originated to explore the opportunity spaces of education and sustainability with a focus on food - to create innovative change through design.  Beyond simply raising awareness.
 
Education is a key access point for creating change because that's where foundational skills are taught to children. Preparing our children for the real world that lies ahead, a future of resource scarcity and shifting job markets?  Public schools and students face a range of issues from federal funding, community engagement, testing requirements, and falling graduation and college enrollment rates.
 
Our team had a hypothesis that the food served in public schools was an existing system that could be leveraged to deliver innovation and design strategy to address universal issues faced by public schools.
Project process
Project hypothesis
Primary Research
To test our initial hypothesis and assumptions we interviewed anyone and everyone in the schoolyard: public & charter schools, administrators, teachers, students, educators, parents, and advocates.  
 
Some of the questions we asked:
- How us sustainability addressed in your school?
-  What are some of the biggest hurdles to students connecting to sustainability?
- What does your ideal school feel and look like? Who's running it?
- If there were a vitamin or supplement for schools to take everyday, what would it be?
 
Within our research we also found several bright spots - opportunities where someone was doing something spectacularly well.  We conducted interviews with these 'bright spots' to understand how they were succeeding even while working within the bureaucracies of the public school system, what they had learned in the process, and what their hurdles were for moving forward. 
 
'Bright Spot' interviewees include: 
- Edible Schoolyard Project, Berkeley CA
- Academy for Global Citizenship, Chicago IL
Interview map
 
Interview results
Interview results
Areas of Opportunity & Concept Development
Our interview findings told us that a large percentage of students and teachers don't know what sustainability is, students don't care because adults haven't made an effort to care themselves, and teachers are not allowed or are discouraged from caring.  
 
By finding the issues that most-concerned our stakeholders, we were able to ask, 'Who else is connected to this issue?'  ‘Who else is impacted by disengaged and unhealthy students and poorly performing public schools?’
Stakeholders
Stakeholders & Prototyping
We found that:
- Public schools need a way to engage students and expand learning beyond testing;
- Edible Education needs a way to scale and create lasting studies that prove success;
- Insurance companies need a way to create a connection with consumers and engage their communities in a way that is authentic and creates long-term benefits for their businesses.
 
We developed a prototype map that allowed us to visualize connections, outcomes, and opportunities between our stakeholders, various inputs, and then test our assumptions on the output such a system could generate.
Prototype map
Business model canvas
Final Design
We ultimately created a business model where Flourish Partners acts as a design strategy consultant to deliver benefits and impact by working with Public Schools and Insurance Companies to deliver beneficial impact within the public education system.  
 
Flourish Partners delivers value by:
- Working with insurance companies to develop long-term planning and risk-mitigation around healthy children now: delivering a large payoff later, ROI for sustainability investments, and brand recognition and value in a highly competitive market; 
 
- Engaging public schools with insurance companies to deliver preventative care and early childhood development best practices including healthy eating, and improved learning capacity in school children resulting in better-prepared college students and work-force adults;
 
- Developing long term comprehensive data working to prove and implement efforts that show effects of healthy eating on school performance and long-term health.