Our Start

How We Started

The CivX pilot took place March 2014 in Chicago at the Chicago Innovation Exchange's incubator space. After a competitive application and interviewing cycle we selected a national educational nonprofit as our inaugural client. A team of six MAPSS students then conducted an intense 5-day engagement of research and prototyping. Running 10-12 hour days, the team interviewed and observed stakeholders across the entire service journey, distilled their observations into insights, and built two minimally-viable prototypes which they then took back into the field to test with users. Their work resulted in a new way for our client organization to engage key stakeholders during the recruitment season and improve the fit between their program and its participants.

Beyond having new ideas, our client was even more excited that the recommended approach could be implemented immediately without new fundraising or hiring. The team’s research training and creativity enabled them to craft a new approach using existing resources—a critical criteria for any nonprofit organization. In the end, the team had a happy client and five of the six team members wanted to dedicate their careers to conducting this kind of impactful research. 

How We're Scaling

The CivX pilot showed that immersive project-based experiences can meaningfully assist civic organization while giving our graduate students exposure to new career paths that take advantage of their distinctive knowledge and training.

As the Social Science Division, we want to give more graduate students an opportunity to explore this extension of their research. In the process we plan to expand our students' access to new resources across the University. In fact, after our initial success, our second project started with a flight to India.

In July of 2014, in partnership with the Law school's International Innovation Corps, we took CivX's research & design sprint to the University's new Delhi Center in New Delhi, India. As we continue to help establish a foundation for urban innovation at Chicago, we'll also look to the University's Centers in Shanghai and Paris for future projects. 

A Sustainable Model

Our future plans include creating a sustainable model of social impact. We'll engage outside sponsors who will shape our project focus across themes such as: Education, Health, Workforce, Immigration, Criminal Justice, Environment and many others.

Please see our Sponsors section for more information on how our sponsors will support social impact through social science and design.