YMCA Changemakers

Experience Design / Prototype Design / Social Innovation Civic Engagement, Education

YMCA Youth Changemakers are determined to make positive social impact in their communities. The goal of the project is to create program based solutions that can engage and empower youths to be changemakers in their community in both virtual and in-person spaces.


Team Lead: Michelle Sun
Designers: Rachel Legg, Spoorthi Cherivirala, Thien Le, Robyn Lee

Community Partner


YMCA Wapakoneta, Ohio DFA National

Fall 2020

project poster

Final Design

Human-Centered Design Process


define target problem spaces

How Can We's that define problem spaces to research

  • How can we engage children and their parents in their development and education?
  • How can we connect with homeless youth independent of their living situation so that they can explore their interests and education without their homelessness limiting them?

Initial knowledge and assumptions

  • Successful initiatives for improving productivity of homeless youth implore one on one mentorship/teaching
  • We should integrate parents or programming for parents in our solution
  • Because of many children's unstable living situations, we should have an online component to our solution. This will allow children to be a part of the program regardless of their living situation


understand your problem spaces

Empathize with stakeholders through personas or stories

  • Miley is 12 years old and has never had a stable home. She has never lived directly on the streets, but has moved around from house to house. Because of this, she has never attended the same school. She eventually ran away and stopped attending school, making it almost impossible for Allegheny county to keep track of her and she never graduated with a high school degree.
  • Daniel is an 18 year old whose parents died when he was very young. He never had formal guidance and attended several schools for homeless youth. His being there allowed Allegheny county to keep track of him and they were therefore able to keep him in the same school for all four years of high school. However, all his records are not managed well, thus his admission is not reflected in some files, making it hard for Allegheny county to keep track of the total number of students.

Key insights from additional research

Slap Stats:

  • 22,765 homeless children in Pittsburgh 2013-2014
  • 1 out of every 30 children experienced homelessness in 2013
  • 87% of homeless youth enrolled in school vs. 77% regularly attend
  • Nicole Anderson
  • Homeless Children
  • Families of Homeless Children
  • School Counties


generate a variety of solutions for meaningful change

Sketches and process

Looking at past projects, we targeted "How Can We?" questions and qualifications that we want our solution to have in order to come up with our own new prototype.

an image of the project's preliminary ideas or prototypes