With ongoing experience in community centered design we have been looking for ways to increase community participation in the deign process. Part of the answer is developing a broader understanding of what decisions shape a neighborhood and who the actors are behind those decisions, and ultimately making community members take on the role of being one of these actors. As architects one way we can build this engagement and draw more diverse people into the profession is by providing more opportunities for children who may have no other contact with a design profession to work with an architect at school. With this in mind in 2017 Marvel launched an effort to teach design to middle school students in neighborhoods where we are working. The pilot for this effort was a seven week course with Phipps Neighborhoods in the Edenwald Neighborhood in the Bronx where we are currently working on the Edenwald YMCA.
The class had the following goals: (1)To give exposure to design fields to kids who might otherwise not know that those fields exist or what they do. (2)To use design problems to make topics in math, science, and social studies relevant and exciting. (3)To support an understanding of what shapes the city around us and how groups and individuals can be agents in that process.