Design solutions to solve big problems and seize new opportunities at the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities’ Innovation Design Summits. Each summit will be focused on a different mission-critical issue to the Alliance network, and all will call on participants to roll up their sleeves.

This is not a conference. Innovation Design Summit participants will bridge sectors and silos, collaborating to build solutions that can be adopted and accelerated by individual organizations and the Alliance network. Unlike a conference where you typically sit and listen to lectures on a preset agenda and set of topics, the Innovation Design Summits will get you out of your chair. You will help frame the design challenges that you want to address, and you’ll work alongside your fellow “designers” to research, generate ideas, test and refine solutions, and develop a plan to realize the solution.

Innovators Travel in Packs: Bring a Team

The Innovation Design Summits will feature what the French call “esprit de corps”—a sense of unity, common interests, and responsibilities developed among a group of persons closely associated in a task, cause, or enterprise.

Because each summit enables everyone to work together to develop future-focused action steps around critical business issues, participants encouraged to bring their “teammates.” This includes members of the organizational team and partners, e.g. community advocates, educators, elected officials, and other partners who will contribute their energy and experiences.

Leaders in the strategic action network know what needs to be done to address the toughest challenges in this field, but they also know that it takes a strong team effort to positively impact communities for the long term.

How This Will Work

The summits will feature facilitated experiences that will tap into the knowledge and expertise of the people who have the answers to the challenges we are trying to solve for—you and your colleagues. By using human-centered design methods and tools, participants will uncover and build solutions the design challenges brought to the table. All summit participants will go through a systematic process of inspiration, ideation, and implementation.

Human-centered design is a repeatable, creative approach to problem solving that turns ideas into action. First popularized by design firms like IDEO to help companies create more user-friendly products, human centered design is now being applied to solve complex social problems and accelerate social innovation. Check out these case studies from Greater Good Studio, our Innovation Design Summit partner, to see how human-centered design is being used by the social sector.

Video: What Is Human-Centered Design?


What You'll Actually Do


We’ll welcome you to the summit and explain our process. Then, rapid-fire talks from national leaders will offer perspective for tackling challenges.

Spark Sessions

Start digging into the challenges by participating in two rounds of 60-minute presentations. They’ll prime your brain for innovation by introducing information about best practices, new knowledge, and creative solutions.

Design Labs

Through a series of facilitated sessions, you will develop your solutions—from idea to implementation:

  • Design Lab 1: Frame your design challenges, draft positive goals, and gather data
  • Design Lab 2: Identify themes to the challenges you identify and craft insights
  • Design Lab 3: Convert challenges into design opportunities
  • Design Lab 4: Create larger concepts (we’ll call these prototypes) for further testing and implementation
  • Design Lab 5: Evaluate concepts and plan for testing

Pitch Session and Implementation Planning

The summit will crescendo with a pitch session featuring some of the best concepts/prototypes. Regroup with colleagues to learn about the many solutions created during the two days of focused work, and together, we will plan for taking these concepts from ideas to action.

What Happens after the Summits

This is not a one-and-done event. It is just the beginning of our shared efforts to bring the concepts to life. The Alliance will support ongoing efforts through the creation of Alliance Peer Exchange groups  related to all of the summits and tools that facilitate peer-to-peer partnerships. Additionally, the Alliance will invite national partners and investors to aid in taking ideas to scale, and we will align our national strategy to support the full execution of these ideas.

Direct questions to the Alliance Conferences and Meetings Department.