Ideation to Improve Youth Civic Engagement

This week we focused on the ideation process for our Civic Engagement project. For a quick recap, our team (Adam, Mary Hannah, and Mariangela) focused on understanding how young adults without college educations go about engaging with their community and the government.

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

We started by applying an insight combination technique which consisted of combining our original insights with design patterns (a design pattern describes a current trend in other contexts, e.g. artificial intelligence).

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

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

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

Insights that we used:

  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.

The combination of the above design patterns and insights allowed us to come up with over 200 ideas.


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

So how might we encourage young adults to take the very first step to become civically engaged?

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


Future me is the result of the need for young Austinites to have a mentor that can help them navigate political and professional landscapes. This mentorship would not only allow young adults to get training and find better job opportunities, but also become integrated into a community formed by individuals in similar circumstances. Research shows that having a higher income and more education leads to a greater likelihood to vote, so Future Me would move young adults further along that path to a professionally and financially secure future. 

Austin Youth Changemakers


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 by placing posters with examples of young adults who have created change. Some of the posters will also be educative about civic skills such as voting and contacting one’s elected officials. 

Contact Your Rep Butler

Cartoon Bellhop Man-01
Cartoon Bellhop Man-02 Cartoon Bellhop Man-03 Cartoon Bellhop Man-04 Cartoon Bellhop Man-05 Cartoon Bellhop Man-06 Cartoon Bellhop Man-07 Cartoon Bellhop Man-08 Cartoon Bellhop Man-09

Contact Your Rep Butler was designed to provide mentorship and training to enable Austinites to contact their elected officials. By exaggerating and having fun with the old-fashioned nature of calling someone on the phone, we hope to make calling your representative seem more accessible to young adults and other members of the public who would currently be reluctant to call an official.


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 and fleshed 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!