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Creative confidence through positive impact | FINAL UPDATE - YOUTH FEEDBACK & FUTURE STEPS

Imagine youth being able to point to positive change and say - "I did that". What if the creative energy and diversity of youth was connected to real-world problems that community members and organizations are facing in their local community?

Photo of Jeff Nagata

Written by

[Final Update - Youth Feedback from Berkeley High School & Next Steps]



Imagine young people pointing to something that positively impacted people's lives and say, "I did that." Making positive change - big or small - can be one of the biggest catalysts of creative confidence. 

What if the creative energy and diversity of youth was connected to real-world problems that community members and organizations are facing in their local community?

We can provide young people the opportunities to make positive change by connecting them to people who need creative solutions, as well as mentors who can guide their creative energy toward positive impact.

Let's refine, together. I would love any feedback, critiques, thoughts, insights, and ideas!

Prototype Mockups

Online + Offline

Process Flow - Text

Process Flow - Visuals 



12/15 FINAL UPDATE - Feedback & Next Steps! 


Feedback - Berkeley High School Students 

Students from 3 classes in Berkeley High School gave feedback on the platform! Check out their responses and my notes here


Feedback - Design for Change 

I talked to Anshul Aggarwal from Design for Change for feedback on this project, and he gave me some great insights: 

- In his experience, young people don't necessarily need a mentor to guide them through the creative process. Young people are fully capable of moving through the process themselves. The adults act more as encouragers. 

- Finding out what sparks young people to start on the creative process is what is important: "The innovation will not come from the platform, the innovation will come from finding a process that young people can use on their own." 

- Design for extreme users. There are many people without access to mentors. Find out how they can make creative impact. 


Next Steps 

After feedback from both high school students and an expert from Design for Change, here are the next steps for this project, going forward:

1. Reach out to local schools and youth-based organizations to initiate a pilot program for this idea with young people 

2. Work alongside young people to make positive impact by moving through a creative process rawest form, without any structure. 

3. Find pain points and obstacles that would keep young people from engaging with creative problem solving, through first-hand experience with youth.

4. Based on pilot program, create the minimal support and structure needed for young people to move through the creative process on their own. 

Instead of working from the online platform, the perspective is switched to see what offline community support is needed for young people to successfully make creative impact in their community. 

The initial idea is to create a blueprint for Impact Hubs (see: Online + Offline document for more details) - a community-based platform that will provide young people the support, incentive, and motive to spark their engagement in creative problem solving. 

From there, we can think about how an online community platform can be created to amplify the community-based Impact Hubs. 





There's a lot of information here, with so many different facets and steps and components. But here's some concrete ways that you can help refine this idea: 

1. YOUTH FEEDBACK - I'm having trouble connecting with young people who can give me direct feedback on a prototype! If you are connected any young people, schools, or youth-based organizations, or can help out in any other way, please let me know via email:  
2. OPEN QUESTIONS - All open questions in the process flow are bolded, to make it easier to find them. I wrote down my own thoughts and ideas for each question, but they're open for any contributions!
Thanks so much for all your help so far everyone!


PLATFORM OVERVIEW  |  [Download visuals at the bottom!]


The purpose of the platform is to facilitate meaningful connections between youth and problems that require creative solutions, as well as mentors who can act as a guide through the creative process.



Local, national, and global connections can be leveraged over an online community platform, where youth can easily connect with problem posters and mentors.

Step 1: People post problems 

Provide opportunities for people to post problems in need of creative solutions in a way that is accessible to young people. Problems must follow a guideline. For example, the problem must have potential for multiple possible solutions, but must be narrow enough to be tangible and actionable. Problems and relevant info are organized on the platform in a way that is accessible to youth.

Step 2: Young people connect with problems

Youth find a problem that they want to tackle based on the information given. The platform can be used as a communication channel for youth to connect with the problem poster.

Step 3: Youth + problem poster connect with appropriate mentor

Youth and problem poster decide guidance that they need in their creative journey, and connect with an appropriate mentor through the platform. The platform can be used to attract mentors who can guide youth and problem posters through the creative process. 

Step 4: Create social contract/Begin project

Connection between youth, problem poster, and mentor are facilitated through a social contract. The platform can be used to create common ground between everyone so they can work together as they tackle the problem toward an established goal. 



PROCESS FLOW   |  [Download PDF version at the bottom!]




Provide individuals & organizations a way to post their problems in a way that can be easily discovered and engaged by youth.

Who are the problem posters?

Problem posters can be any individual, group or organization looking for creative solutions to a problem they face.

They might be a land owner who wants to do something beneficial with vacant space. They might be a business owner who wants to find a way to better integrate their services to their community. They might be a non-profit/social enterprise tackling a social problem in the local area, where the solutions aren't clear or straightforward.

A particularly good fit for this idea might also be individuals or organizations that are tackling a youth-centric issue. For example, while working for Smile, Inc. to educate youth about basic healthcare, oral hygiene, nutrition, etc., Mansi Parikh saw that youth were able to connect and empathize with other kids from less priviledged backgrounds in a way that adults couldn't.

Youth can also post problems that they see, or problems that they have. The platform can be used by youth to find individuals or organizations with the capabilities to help implement solutions, and to find mentors that can guide their efforts in the next phases.

What are the motivations of problem posters?

The platform provides a possibility for problem posters to find creative solutions to the problem they are facing. They will also be able to work closely with youth, bringing fresh perspective to the problem and yielding previously hidden insights.

What are the guidelines for posting problems?

The problems should be broad enough to allow multiple possible solutions. This will give youth the opportunity to tackle the problem creatively. For example, "creating a community garden in my vacant lot to provide access to healthy food" already has a specific solution, while "re-purposing my vacant lot to provide access to healthy food" provides a big solution space.

At the same time, the problem should also be narrow enough to be tangible and actionable (more on this below!) This will maximize the chance for implementation, which would give youth the "I made that" moment that sparks creative confidence.

The platform should also emphasize the fact that problem posters must be open to new ideas and solutions.

The guideline should be enforced so that no one is taking advantage of the platform and the youth, by posting problems that do not require creativity (i.e. no cheap labor). How can we ensure that the youth are not taken advantage of?

What information should be given by problem posters?

Youth can use their own judgment on the information provided by problem posters to decide which problem to tackle. For example, tackling a problem where problem posters can give a lot of support, and has a loose criteria for success (like coming up with a creative theme for a charity event) can act as a small step that youth can take toward creative confidence!

  • Contact information: location, telephone, email, social media, etc.
  • Description of the problem, and description of the problem poster (who are they?)
  • Capability to help youth as they go through the creative process. For example,         how much contextual information can they provide? Do they have any talents or       skills to mentor youth?
  • Capability to help youth implement solutions. For example, how much money can     they allocate to the problem? What talents or skills do they have that might help       with implementation?
  • Time commitment: how much time can they devote each week? In what capacity    (direct meeting, online communication, etc.)?
  • Criteria for success and concrete deadline. This will make the scope of the               creative project clearly defined for everyone involved, and everyone will know when     a project has ended or "succeeded".




Provide opportunities for youth of all personalities, creative confidence levels, and creative styles to connect with a problem that engages them.

Who are the youth?

Youth might be classmates from middle or high schools that are working together as a part of a classroom project (look below for how this might be implemented in schools!) The project could also be part of a extra-curricular program, such as community clubs trying to improve their surroundings, or faith-based organizations, as suggested by Bettina Fliegel. Individual youth and parents might also want to participate through their own initiative.

What would be a good age limit for this idea? Any suggestions or thoughts would be appreciated!

What is the motivation of youth?

The platform provides an opportunity for youth to make positive, tangible change towards problems they see around them. They'll also work with mentors that can guide and nurture their creative potential. It will also be fun!

A big assumption I'm making right now is that youth would be naturally motivated to make positive impact if given opportunities to do so, and in the right way. What do you think? Do we need more incentives for youth to get motivated?

Problems that require creative solutions are often complex, and needs a diversity of perspectives, creative styles, and personalities to solve. How can we make this clear to all youth? The problems should also be organized in a way so that youth that are introverted or lost their creative confidence, can find problems that they feel they can contribute to. How can we organize problems in a way that is accessible to youth who lost their creative confidence? Without problems that they can identify with, hesitant youth may not feel the motivation to take that first step.

What existing infrastructure can be integrated with the platform?

A. Schools

The platform can be integrated into the school curriculum. This would be a great way to reach thousands of youth who go to school, and drive engagement because it wouldn't be seen as extra work outside of school. One problem with this is that teachers may already be swamped with work, and resources for many schools are already stretched thin. How can we encourage schools to implement this program in their curriculum?

One solution might be Kenneth Walton's awesome idea to integrate OpenIDEO with Student Service Learning (SSL) curriculums, where students gain school credits for recognizing and addressing community needs, while gaining essetial knowledge, skills, and mindsets for success. According to Kenneth, "Student Service Learning (SSL) as it currently exist does not always offer a great way to be creative for students."

I'm currently contacting schools in my area to gain their perspective. Can you think of any schools with SSL programs in your area?

B. Local government

As per Felipe Cabeza's comment on this concept page: "Many organizations (public and private) issue requests for proposals (RFPs) when trying to solve a problem. They select a submission, outsource that work and reward the group that provides a solution ... Would it be possible to convince a handful of local governments not only to issue RFPs to adults but also to students of all levels?"

Young people will see their ideas being taken seriously by their local government, which would be a great win for their creative confidence. Integrating the platform with RFPs would also drive support from the government, and would also give the platform the legitimacy and visibility that would make it more sustainable in those communities.

Would your local government be interested in this? I'm currently contacting mayors to set up meetings. Any help exploring this idea further would be appreciated!

What information should youth send to the problem poster?

  • Contact information
  • Description of themselves: Who are they? What age group? Are they a part of a       special program (such as a school program, after-school organization, etc.)?
  • Capabilities of youth: How much time can they devote to the problem each week?     Do they want to go through to implementation, on top of generating ideas?

How should the problems be organized?

Problems should be organized to make it as easy as possible for youth to find problems they are interested in. I'm imagining a category sorting system like the one used in OpenIDEO.

  • Geographic: Problems can be posted on a interactive map. Youth can click on a       icon on the map to see more information provided by problem posters.
  • Topics: Broad topics might emerge after many people post problems. Youth can       use this to find problems that match their particular interest.
  • Difficulty: This can be based on the information that problem posters provided,           such as how much support they can give, deadlines, success criteria, etc. But         this is still vague, let me know if you have any suggestions!




Provide a way for youth and a suitable mentor to connect with each other.

Who are the mentors?

Mentoring youth through a creative process is hard. As Susie Nakao mentioned in the comments below, "it's a fine line between a facilitated creative process and a linear approach." Mentors must be able to facilitate youth without dominating, while at the same time nurturing everyone's ideas and guiding their creative energy. They must also accommodate the voice of every youth.

It's crucial to find a way for youth to connect to experienced and appropirate mentors. At the same time, it is also crucial to find a way so that youth everywhere can connect with a suitable mentor. How might we do this? Do you have any ideas?

Mentors might be professional designers with relevant experience and skills. For example, IDEO designers! For an example of how designers can be effective mentors, take a look at this article, where designers facilitate high school students to solve a problem they care about! Mentors might be teachers or leaders at youth-based organizations, or others that have deep intuition about youth. Mentors can also be design students currently in school.

Can you think of anyone else that would be a great mentor?

What are the motivations of mentors?

Guiding youth through the creative process can enhance their own understanding of creativity and the creative process. Mentors often learn as much as the people they're mentoring! They can also gain leadership and facilitation experiences and skills. It would also be a very rewarding and fun experience that they might not be able to get otherwise.

In what ways can mentors connect with youth?

A. Direct facilitation - Mentors can physically meet with youth for a specified amount of time and frequency. This would be ideal, since this would establish a sense of trust and understanding between the mentor and youth. Mentors can actively guide youth along as they move through the creative problem-solving process.

B. Through Schools - If the platform is implemented through schools, experienced teachers can be the mentors. I'm assuming that the teachers would have strong intuition on best practices for facilitating student collaboration. But this is just speculation. Are you a teacher, or do you know a teacher? What are your opinions on this? Any suggestions are appreciated! Additional toolkits, information, and support might be needed to offer specific creative methodologies and techniques (see below for more on this.)

C. Online connection - Online interactions might be an viable alternative for youth that cannot gain direct access to mentors in their area. This wouldn't be the best choice, because mentors would not be able to get as involved, but it might be a way to make the platform more accessible to more youth. In this case, mentors would connect with youth through online video chat, email, through the platform itself, or other methods online.

D. Shadowing - As per Susie Nakao and Mansi Parikh's conversation below - if there are individuals or organizations that are already working on a similar problem that the youth is tackling, and also have mentorship capabilities, youth can directly shadow them. It would create a two-way mentoring relationship, where youth provide fresh perspective and creative energy, while the individual/organization would provide guidance for the youth as they tackle the problem themselves.

How can we make mentors more accessible to youth everywhere?

Youth may live in an area without viable mentors to connect with. There are also youth living in remote locations, and without access to the internet. How can we make this idea more scalable by providing ways for youth in these conditions to connect with great mentors?

A. Workshops - As per Susie Nakao and Mansi Parikh's conversation - people with mentoring experience can set up interactive workshops where either problem posters, youth themselves, or other individuals who wish to be mentors can participate and learn helpful skills, techniques, information. The goal of workshops would be to increase the quantity of potential mentors that are available to guide youth, everywhere. Workshops can work online (through the platform) or offline (physical meet-ups).

B. Mentorship Toolkits - Related to the workshop idea, the platform can also supply toolkits and information pamphlets. The aim of the toolkit would be to allow people without access to mentors to learn to be mentors themselves. The toolkit needs to provide information about the nuances of mentorship, such as accommodating the voice of all youth, and emphasizing a non-hierarchical mentorship style. They can be downloadable online, or physical version can be spread to remote locations and youth without internet. Saskia's "Toolkit for Creative Confidence Enablers" is also shortlisted right now, and seems to fit really well with this idea! Kirk Soderstrom's "Creative Confidence: Parent's & Teacher's Edition" is also currently shortlisted, and also might be a good fit for this!

Other resources:


What other ways can we make mentors available to youth in more situations and circumstances?

What information should be provided by the mentor?

  • Relevant experiences, expertise, skills, talents, or other wisdom that they can          offer youth as they go through the creative problem-solving process
  • Time commitment - How much time can mentors devote to supporting youth per       week? What frequency?
  • Level of involvement - Can the mentors directly/physically mentor the youth?            Online only? Can they host workshops? Will they mentor through to                        implementation, or only through the process?




Create a foundation and framework that helps youth, problem poster, and mentor work together toward a common goal. The social contract manages the commitment and expectations among all three actors.

A social contract is not a legal document, but it is an agreement from each actor to do their best to commit to their established roles as they tackle the problem together. The social contract can help all actors keep each other accountable.

What is included in the social contract?

The social contract will include the all the information that the youth, problem posters, and mentors provided when they connected with each other.

For example, the concrete deadline and criteria for "success" submitted by the problem poster will be used to establish a common deadline for everyone involved. The capabilities, support, and time commitment that were offered by problem posters and mentors when they connected to the youth can also be included, so that youth can hold both actors accountable.

How can the platform offer support?

A. Dedicated page - Online, each project can get its own page, where youth can update their progress, any obstacles they are encountering, and their insights. Like a blog for each project. Mentors and problem posters can use this page as a base to keep each other updated. The page can also be used for others outside the project to offer their own thoughts, suggestions, relevant resources, and insights. A network of project pages can also provide insight for other projects that are tackling a similar problem.

B. Community network - the platform can offer many avenues for people to develop ideas through active, meaningful collaboration. Online, there can be comment sections under each project page for anyone all over the world to contribute to youth. People can also "subscribe" to project pages to get email updates, which will make it easy for people to keep track of projects.

How can these support be extended offline, for remote areas or people without internet connection?


How should failure be "managed"?

Implementation of ideas is a huge motivator for youth to engage in their creative potential. Youth should be able to see and experience their ideas come to life in a tangible way.

At the same time, real-world problems mean there is a chance for failure. How should failure be defined and "managed"? Failure needs to be celebrated as a important part of the process. 



[Download PDF at the bottom!]


The relationship between the online and offline component of the platform was a major theme during our discussion at the Palo Alto Meetup (Thanks to Mel + Frank for organizing the Meetup, and everyone who helped refine the idea!)

The online component of the platform can unify the global youth. The offline component is needed to translate the creative energy of young people toward the "I did that" moment in their local community.

"How might we best utilize the strengths of the online & offline components of the platform?"

What do YOU think? What is the best way to utilize the best of both worlds?




Young people, problem posters, and mentors go through a single process cycle at the same time. The four steps outlined in the Process Flow can be used as the phases that everyone moves through together, so all projects move forward at the same pace.


  • Unifies everyone using the platform, increasing collaborative activities online.
  • Still provides opportunities for young people to connect with a diverse range of problems in the local context
  • Can offer focused support for everyone since we will know what step everyone is at in a given time



Community Champions responsible for maintaining the offline component of the platform.

The responsibilities of the Community Champions are:

  1. Act as link between their community and the main online platform
  2. Make a "Positive Impact Hub" through existing social centers in their community
  3. Host analog forms of the process cycle, such as local meetups, collecting community problems, etc.
  4. Act as an advocate for the youth voice in their community.



  • Answers an important question posed by OpenIDEO: "Is there a way that you imagine this idea reaching youth who have little to no access to the internet but who still might want to work on these kinds of creative projects?"
  • Solidifies the action portion of the idea. Without a way for youth to take action, the creative energy generated through online collaboration and ideation will dissipate.





1. "Wall of Inspirations"


Separate section of the platform where past projects are displayed. Can be categorized in a list or on a interactive map, similar to how problems are organized.

Projects that "succeeded" AND "failed" both go on the same wall! Whether the youth met their chosen success criteria or not, they are all asked the same questions at the end, such as:

  • "What did you learn from the project?"
  • "What mistakes did you make, and what did you learn from them?"
  • "What insights do you want to share with your peers?"

Youth can also notify their peers whose project insights helped them during their own project.


The wall acts as a source of inspiration for youth who see what their peers accomplished. Youth also gain useful insights from relevant past projects.

Also a partial answer to the question - How do we manage "failure"?

By putting the "failed" projects on the same page as successful projects, we celebrate both success and failure on an equal level, as a source of inspiration and support for other youth just like them. Creates a safe environment for cultivating creative confidence.


2. Separate info for mentors


Mentors apply to join a project, based on the guidance that youth and problem posters requested.

After young people connect with the problem posters, they separately submit info about the mentorship support they need. Mentors can look at both needs to determine if they are a good fit for the project.

After a potential mentor connects, youth and problem poster can decide together if the mentor is right for their project.


Problem posters and youth would most likely have different needs in terms of mentorship. This is a way to ensure that mentors are able to offer help to both youth and problem posters.


3. Organizing problems/projects by progression


Indicating the status of the project progress can help young people determine if they want to get involved or not.

For example - young people that are part of a bigger group may want to tackle an entirely new problem, while individuals may want to join others that are already tackling a problem with a mentor.

Look at the mockups (the interactive map and categorized list) in the pictures above, or download the PDF at the bottom for visual examples!


4. Milestones


In addition to the established deadline for the project, youth, mentors, and problem posters can set milestones to accomplish during the creative process. (See: the full problem page in the Mockups!)


The milestones act as "mini-deadlines". Youth, mentors, and problem posters can use milestones to manage the project and keep everyone on track. It also separates what might otherwise be an intimidating problem into bite-sized chunks. Multiple deadlines would also create spikes in energy and enthusiasm throughout the project. 





- Enabling youth to collectively make meaningful change that is larger than themselves. The amazing feeling of making positive impact is a great motivator to tap into their creative potential and contribute ideas.

- Break down the perception that the adults have all the answers, by breaking down the wall between the world of adults and the world of youth. By incorporating the voice of youth in "real-world" problems, they will gain confidence in their own ability to contribute to solving problems that even adults have trouble with.

- A platform that collects the problems that individuals and organizations are having in the local area can also act as a valuable tool to assist teachers, facilitators, or other mentors that are already working on projects to cultivate creative confidence. 


This idea came up during a brainstorming session with my friends Erica Kotta and Sydney Mayes. 

*New* Refinement question: What will the future look like with your idea in it?

The platform for this idea can serve as an outlet for the creative voice of young people. It will provide opportunities for young people to use their creativity to fundamentally shape the way the world works through positive impact. My vision is that this idea will reshape the way the world values young people and their creative energy - as an integral component of tackling the biggest issues we face today. By creating a world that is inspired by the potential of creative ideas, we can in turn inspire young people to cultivate their creative potential. 5 YEARS Through community-based "Impact Hubs" and an online community platform that ties them all together, young people can connect and work with interested community members and local organizations toward positive change. A network of young people and adults who are receptive to implementing creative solutions start to grow through the platform. As more and more successful creative impact stories emerge, more and more adults become "Community Champions" - people who act as advocates for youth voice for change in their community. 15 YEARS What started as a small network of young people and adults turn into entire communities that support implementation of creative solutions from youth. More and more young people are joining the movement to make creative impact as they hear testimonials from their friends, and Impact Hubs are spreading to cities around the globe. The online platform facilitates this growth by acting as a network between every Impact Hub. There has been success stories of young people making big, global changes through collaboration between multiple Impact Hubs around the world. A positive loop is created: as more young people successfully implement creative solutions to real problems, more communities become receptive to creative ideas from youth, which in turn encourages more young people to join in! 50 YEARS The way the world approaches young people and their creative potential has changed. Creative solutions from youth are being implemented to make positive change around the globe. People value the creative energy of youth, and allow themselves to be impacted and changed by it. Young people are no longer pushed to the sidelines while adults tackle big problems - they are now central players. Young people around the world will value their unique creative potential to help their community, cities, and the world.

In this challenge, we want to create ideas with young people, not for them. Outline how you’re planning to involve young people or other end-users (parents, teachers, etc) in designing, iterating or testing your idea during the Ideas phase.

A great way to test out this idea would be to connect individuals or organizations in our local communities with young people in the same area. It can be implemented in schools, or as a separate program. Non-profits, social enterprises, and other organizations can also organize their own projects that involve youth to spark solutions. During this pilot phase, we can see what incentives and motivations are needed for young people to be engaged with the platform. We can also see what pain points and obstacles they face to see what type of support and structure would serve young people best.

How might you envision your idea spreading across geographies or cultures so that it inspires young people around the world to cultivate their creative confidence?

I think a cool part about this idea is that there are people all over the world that need creative solutions to their problems. The platform, process, and insights we gain can be spread across the globe. Impact Hubs can act as the local platform with the minimal support, connections, and structure that is needed for young people to tackle a problem and make positive impact. The online platform can unify these local hubs together to create a community of young people, problem posters, and mentors into a single movement.

What skills, input or guidance would you like to receive from the OpenIDEO community to help you build out or refine your idea further?

Look at the "HOW YOU CAN HELP" section all the way at the top! The two things I especially need help with are: 1. YOUTH FEEDBACK - I'm having trouble connecting with youth. I made mockups to give youth something tangible to give feedback on. If you can help, please email me: 2. OFFLINE IDEAS - How can we extend this idea to include youth in remote locations, or youth who don't have internet access?
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Attachments (5)


Youth Feedback - Berkeley High School


Process Flow - Text


Process flow diagram


Prototyping Mockups for Online Platform


Online + Offline Ideas (Palo Alto Meetup)


Join the conversation:

Photo of Hao Dinh

Hi Jeff, I referenced your idea in my Impact story!

Photo of Jeff Nagata

Cool! How is Grow by Design going?

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