Developing ideas to help young adults to become more civically engaged

This week we focused on the ideation process for our Civic Engagement project. For a quick recap, our team (Adam, Mary Hannah and Mariangela) researched how how young adults without college education go about engaging with their community, how they conceived of civic engagement and when they might politically engage.

Last quarter, we developed opportunity areas. And so, this quarter, we started developing concepts by applying an insight combination techniques.  This consists of combining our original insights with design patterns (design pattern: describes a current trend, based on problem/ solution sets in other contexts).

The insight and design pattern coding system
The insight and design pattern coding system

Some of the design patterns that we used are the following:

  • Monopoly
  • Alcoholic Anonymous
  • Cards Against Humanity
  • Grindr
  • Google Drive

The combination of these design patterns with the following insights made us come up with over 200 ideas.

How we categorized our ideas after our ideation sessions.
How we categorized our ideas after our ideation sessions.

Insights that we combined with patterns:

  1. Young adults need a mentor to negotiate the complexities of growing up.
  2. For young adults, the old ways of connecting with government are remote but nothing has arisen to replace them
  3. Political art provides an accessible starting point for young folk to develop points of view because it wears its bias on its sleeve and organizes facts into a narrative form.
  4. The service industry depends on a workforce that does not attain post-secondary education so that they can continue to pay them a minimum wage.

Ideas we developed:

Examples of rapid vignettes we drew during our ideation session.
Examples of rapid vignettes we drew during our ideation session.

There are several actions that an individual can take to become civically engaged, one of them is voting. But research has shown that two of the main reasons why individuals don’t vote is the fact that registration takes work, and because individuals with college education are more prone to proactively look for information about politics (Brookshire, Bethany. (Nov 2016) 4 reasons why people don’t vote).

So how might we encourage young adults to take the very first step that would eventually drive them to vote?

The following are three ideas that the team downselected after the ideation session:


Future me is the result of the need for young Austinites of a mentor that can help navigate political and professional landscapes. This mentorship would not only allow young adults to get training and find better job opportunities, but also to get integrated into a community conformed by individuals in similar circumstances.


Austin Youth Changemakers is the result of the recognition that Austin youth are inspired by self-expression and art. We hope to tap into this instinct, beautify construction spaces around Austin, and inspire Austinites to publically share their civic experiences. We also hope to design posters that are artful and educative.

Next steps

As we grappled with developing novel, fun and engaging ideas that tied to our research, we often found ourselves stuck. What would actually work? Once we committed to our ideas, fleshing out the details in storyboards and vignettes, we began to question what is actually possible. What would get someone out of their comfort zone? What are ways our designs can provoke behavior change? Our next steps are to iterate on our current ideas, get feedback from the AC4D community, and look for youth to co-design solutions with.

Our asks

We would love your help ideating. Please get in touch with us through our emails (,, And if you know anyone between the ages of 18 and 25 that would be willing to work with us, please help us connect!