Be the Change: The DSI Design for America Scholarship

January 5, 2016

MFA Design for Social Innovation (DSI) at SVA in collaboration with Design for America has setup the DSI Design for America Scholarship, the recipient of which will receive $10,000 per year towards their tuition for the program. The deadline for applying is January 15.

Design for America (DFA) is a national organization with chapters in 29 universities in the U.S. It’s an award-winning organization that creates a network of interdisciplinary undergraduate students interested in using design to create social impact. The scholarship is only open to students who are part of DFA and want to take their ideas and work forward at the Masters level through MFA Design for Social Innovation at SVA.

dsi425Cheryl Heller, chair of MFA Design for Social Innovation, told SVA Close Up, “The MFA program is in its fourth year and so it is still new. It’s a new kind of design idea and my job is to demonstrate that design is the best approach to solving several of our social problems. The higher the quality of the applicants, the more clarity they bring to issues they want to work with. We need people who are committed to going out in the world and using their education.”

The recipient of the scholarship will start the MFA Design for Social Innovation program in the fall semester of 2016. “In every applicant to this program I look for the same qualities,” Heller explained. “I look for people who are mature enough to create their own opportunities. And I look for commitment to social issues, intelligence and visual thinking. Portfolio is nice but not required.”

mentors425MFA Design for Social Innovation is also collaborating with DFA in a mentoring program this year. Graduates students of the department are mentoring members from DFA’s local chapter, which includes undergraduate students from Barnard and Columbia University. The DFA students select a community and a community organization that they want to help. Each team is then adopted by one or two SVA students, who make themselves available and mentor the DFA students with respect to the process of developing a project and figuring out how to measure its impact.

“Our students benefit from the experience of mentoring because it is about practicing what they learn and that is an even better learning experience,” Heller said. “DFA is a rare organization and our partnership with them is advantageous because we know we are speaking to like-minded people.”

For more information and to apply to the MFA Design for Social Innovation graduate program, click here.

Bottom photo from a mentoring session.

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