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Principals and teachers are best equipped to solve their schools’ most pressing challenges. To that end, The Fund’s Summer Design Program (SDP) partners with expert local and national organizations to deliver high-impact professional development that helps principals and their teams lead change in their schools.

Since 2013, Summer Design Program (SDP) has provided educators with the time, space, and resources to create innovative solutions to school-based, student-centered challenges. After 18 months of virtual learning during the pandemic, we wanted to provide principals and their teams the opportunity for reflection, connection, and action. In this spirit, we designed SDP 2021 to help school teams look back with clarity on the year behind them and to look toward the year ahead with hope (and a plan!). In 2021, SDP consisted of two elements: Design Studios and Professional Learning Communities (PLCs). Schools had the option of participating in one or both to meet their needs. Learn more about our PLCs here and our design studios below. 

Design Studios | 90 principal or assistant principal-led teams 

In spring 2021, The Fund partnered with Leadership + Design to host design-thinking workshops for K-12 public schools in Chicago. These workshops helped school teams perform empathy-building interviews and observations with students or teachers, learn design-thinking as a problem-solving practice, and collaborate to design unique learning acceleration strategies. Building off our learning from the COVID-19 Comeback Fund, The Fund prioritized schools with historically underserved students for this opportunity and provided $1,000 stipends to every school team that participated in a studio to help enact their projects. 

So far, 90 teams have participated in a design studio; 100% of these teams reported high satisfaction and that participation in the studio better prepared them for the school year. Survey findings showed us that principals benefit greatly from having set time and resources to react to their school’s unique situation. The Fund plans to keep offering design studios throughout the 2021-22 school year.

By the Numbers


2021-22 School Teams Served by Design Studios


2021-22 PLC Participants


Dollars Invested in Design Studios in 2021-22

Summer Design Program

Learn more about SDP

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