A Community-Anchored Approach for Systems Transformation


Changes in education and learning systems have often been done to people and not in partnership with them.

Generally this has especially been true for people in low-income communities, Black, Indigenous and people of color, LGBTQ+ people, culturally and linguistically diverse communities, immigrants and refugees, people with disabilities, people who live in remote communities, and anyone facing multiple barriers to accessing learning opportunities.

Design Lab offers a way to change that.

It invites you to:

Radically listen.

Co-create ideas and try those ideas.

Anchor how and if concepts evolve and grow to reach more people based on what you learn.

This 5 minute video breaks down the triple loop, a
visual that displays the depth and impact Design
Lab can have.

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Exploring Design Lab

Getting Started with Design Lab

Frequently Asked Questions

If you’ve made it this far, we assume you’re intrigued. Now what do you do? And where do you start?

#1 Request your own copy of RESCHOOL Design Lab Miro template for free

  • Download the PDF version of Design Lab. Make copies of the resources for community discussions, recreate them on whiteboards, with sticky notes or other tactile supplies.
    • If you want to access Design Lab on Miro, open a free Miro account. Fill out the form above and RESCHOOL will send you the template (in English or Spanish) so you can start exploring. Note the mobile app provides limited functionality to the browser, tablet and desktop apps.
  • Check out this 6-minute Miro Orientation recording before diving into the Design Lab.

#2 Determine your initial start and stop points.
What drew you in and made you think of your own work? Was it a particular tool or the full, generative process?

Decide what amount of time you can slice out of your schedule to play in this space. Maybe it’s one hour this month. Maybe it’s 10 minutes before and 10 minutes after one meeting this month. No amount of time is too little. Just get started.

#3 Contact RESCHOOL We’d love the opportunity to brainstorm with you.

What is Design Lab?

It is a framework and a set of resources for groups interested in engaging their communities more meaningfully in the design of education systems.

It is both a generative process to support your community-anchored work and a set of exercises in challenging your habits of being in community, the way ideas emerge and the way you work to make systems of learning equitable and accessible.

When used as a process over time, Design Lab puts concepts into motion that serve as building blocks for empowering equitable and accessible learning systems.

Design Lab doesn’t lead you to a pre-determined output. It doesn’t suggest you replicate practices across contexts. Instead, it focuses on who you collaborate with and how you do your work, because that is just as, if not more important, than the work itself.

Why Engage in RESCHOOL Design Lab?

You like that Design Lab does not seek to oversimplify the messy work of realizing equitable systems of learning for everyone that exists in those systems. It doesn’t pretend that there is a linear process that can lead us through the change that’s needed, nor that good ideas can be simply replicated across contexts. It does not allow listening to community to be a box you check and does not gloss over the power of collaborative processes. Rather, everything you do in Design Lab is fueled and informed by the intellect and instincts of people who directly experience our learning systems yet have not had a seat at the table in the design of those systems.

You’ve seen conventional ways of making changes to our education system fail too many times at meeting the needs of families, young people and practitioners.

You want to break the habitual way of doing your work.

You’re ready to rethink everything you “know” to be true. To walk the talk by acting on and investing in what you hear from people you’re collaborating with.

This was designed for you if

You want to explore new ways of surfacing system challenges that people are facing, identifying opportunities they are seeking, and creating space to test new approaches or concepts in response to what you’ve learned.

You are committed to leveraging power and resources to advance the ideas you have surfaced with your community.

You believe in and trust the intellect and instincts of the people in your community with whom you are collaborating.

You have an established equity lens on your work.

You have an established relationship with people you want to collaborate with.

What does success look like if you engage in Design Lab?
  • You notice positive impacts (results, shifts in practice and/or behaviors, system changes, etc.).
  • The experience encourages dialogue and growth within yourself, the groups of people you interact with and the way everyone shows up and works within systems of learning.
  • Listening, and incorporating the context of the people with whom you’re collaborating is central to the work.
  • The commitments in Design Lab are cultivated.
  • You engage and commit to a generative process to systems change work
  • The work is dynamic. It grows and changes over time in ways that propel you forward.
What’s Inside?
  • Tools that expand and challenge habits of listening
  • Future State Design Process: A human-centered design approach that supports taking what you have learned from building relationships and listening to people into a stage of ideation, co-creation testing, and iterating.
  • Situational Analysis: We offer a few different ways you can track where you are in the moment and what changes are happening over time as you engage in Design Lab.
  • Reflection is built within the tools above and throughout the engagement.
Support Options

There are key videos, instructions and audio recordings that provide you with the guidance you need to dig into Design Lab at your convenience.

That said—this theme is probably familiar by now-this work cannot be done in isolation. Integrity to the process is essential and having someone to talk to is part of that. That could be a group of people who intersect in the work, one colleague, or your team.

Have a chat with a RESCHOOL team member. We’d be happy to start to explore with you where you might start in Design Lab and how you might start to apply it in your context.

If you found it valuable to have RESCHOOL as a thought partner and want to partner further, email us. We partner with organizations as advisors and facilitate workshops.

Where did RESCHOOL Design Lab come from?

RESCHOOL’s works to create an equitable education system where the learning that happens everywhere is fully accessible to all young people.

Design Lab has been rooted in, inspired and fueled by what we have learned by listening to families and young people that traditionally haven’t had a seat at the table in designing our learning systems, specifically families of color and families living in low-income households. In fact, our entire vision for our organization evolved because of our work with families and community-based organizations. Originally, we’d set out to create a new education system that would run parallel to the existing one. We learned from families over time that they wanted support accessing the resources available in the current system, navigating that system, as well as accessing the array of learning experiences outside of school, leading us to an evolved vision of an education system that ensures equitable access and resources learning that happens everywhere.

Over the years, people have asked to learn more about how RESCHOOL approaches its systems change work and why we focus on the concepts we do. In typical RESCHOOL fashion, we thought it would be way more interesting and useful if people could step into the process and play with it in their own contexts. So-we created Design Lab.

We have lots of hypotheses about what might happen when others engage in Design Lab. What innovative ideas might Design Lab lead others to try? And how might those ideas lead to equitable systems of learning?

RESCHOOL has utilized components of Design Lab to listen, collaborate with and learn from community, to co-create ideas with them, and then actually try those ideas.

Much of what you see in Design Lab, has been in use by our team for nearly a decade. Other things we’ve added over time as we learned more and partnered further with communities. In using components of Design Lab over the years, RESCHOOL has moved innovative and tangible ideas forward that were co-created with families and community organizations, and have expanded access to learning opportunities for young people across Colorado.

We’re on our own journey within the triple loop model you see in Design Lab. We believe we have some insight to offer because we’ve been working this way for a while-and we are, and always will be, continuing to learn and do better.

We look forward to learning from your engagement with Design Lab so that like everything, we can iterate and improve upon it.


Thank you to everyone that helped create this version of the RESCHOOL Design Lab

Rick Griffith
Colleen Broderick
Britt Erickson
Yvonne Delbanco

Anna Cole
Amanda Dickson
Bill Fulton
Chad Cookinham
Miguel Gonzalez
Paul Kim
Sara Cantor

Honor and name those that have inspired this work and recognize work/processes similar to ours

We do not do this work in isolation. So many (more than even what we have listed here) inspired, informed, and/or have work that is complementary to Design Lab. We think Design Lab brings some fresh insight and practices to the space and our greatest hope is that you find it useful in your work. If you are interested in the RESCHOOL Design Lab, you might be interested in these other resources and tools too. Maybe you’ll find ways to use them in different ways and/or in conjunction with existing tools you’ve been using.

This list captures a moment in time. It’s not exhaustive, nor will it be updated regularly. It is our attempt at honoring those that have inspired this work and have work similar to ours. We urge you to do the same in your work. As our friend Sara Cantor at Greater Good Studio so beautifully says in this article, all of these people and organizations are doing their own version of awesome. We need to stay focused on who we are actually in competition with. For us, it is inequitable, inaccessible systems of learning. Game on.

Adrienne Maree Brown, Emergent Strategy
Caroline Hill: EquityxDesign
Clay Christensen and colleagues: Disruptive Innovation Theory
Entangled Solutions and Rita Gunther: Discovery-driven planning
Frederic Laloux: Reinventing Organizations (book)
Greater Good Studio
KnowldegeWorks: Imagining Liberatory Futures
Matt Candler
Mauricio Lim Miller: The Alternative (book)
National Equity Project: Liberatory Design/card deck and equity leadership graphic
Open Systems Institute: Open Systems Principles
Peter Senge: Center for Systems Awareness
The Presencing Institute: Theory U

Design Lab was produced with support from Carson Foundation, Donnell-Kay Foundation, Margulf Foundation, Wend II, Inc. and W.K. Kellogg Foundation