Facebook and Autodesk have partnered with nonprofit organization Inneract Project, which is geared toward bringing design to young people in underserved communities through free, hands-on classes and mentorship.
With the support of Autodesk and Facebook, Inneract Project has been able to hire two full-time employees, an operations manager and a project leader coordinator. The organization is also able to bring on a few part-time people, Inneract founder and Executive Director Maurice Woods told me.
“More importantly, what it’s done is provide us an opportunity to really become real, sound players, not only just in creating curriculum but also in starting to have meaningful programs with kids,” Woods said.
San Francisco-based Inneract Project aims to empower underrepresented kids by teaching them the core concepts and skills of design in technology. Inneract Project does this through three main, free offerings: Youth Design Academy, an eight-week class for middle school students; Learning Labs, workshops, lectures and studio tours for middle school and high school students; and a video series that documents designers, called Designed.
“I believe supporting programs like IP’s Youth Design Academy is a critical step in making design more accessible to students from all backgrounds,” Facebook Head of Design Luke Woods said in a statement. “We all get better results when designers come together with unique perspectives.”
With Facebook, Inneract Project is working on something that fits alongside developing the pathway for underserved kids in the community, Woods said, and ultimately bringing more diversity to design.
“Our challenge over the next four years is to obviously continue to teach design to kids but how do we get as deep into the community as possible — reach as many underserved minority kids as possible,” Woods said. “We just haven’t had the resources to be able to dig as deep as we want to dig. It takes time and outreach. Kids, parents and administrators don’t really understand what design is entirely and how it fits in terms of not just an educational standpoint, but career standpoint.”
In partnership with Autodesk, Inneract Project is developing a design bootcamp, where the organization will work with 10 to 12 kids over the course of two weeks every day on a maker-style bootcamp, which includes developing prototypes and fabricating using a 3D printer to produce the final piece, Woods said.
“We’ve never been able to offer this before because we haven’t had the resources for it.”
Over the years, Inneract Project has taught hundreds of kids from underserved communities in design and technology. But the bigger thing Woods is interested in with Inneract Project is entrepreneurship and reprogramming young peoples’ minds into being more entrepreneurially sound and understanding their place in business and how design and business intersect.
“Design is a place where professionals are creating and designing things for people,” Woods said. “That puts us in a really great position to learn the business side and learn how to market our own ideas and build businesses on our own. We want them to work at Facebook, at a Google, at an Autodesk, but we also want them to build a Facebook, Autodesk and Google. We want them to have that mentality so they’re not reliant on someone giving them a job, but creating opportunities.”