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DTL - Program Details

The Design To Lead is a 6 month program focused on training high-potential, socially minded teenagers in “Design-Thinking” based approach to understand and address society’s most significant challenges. This program has been developed under the guidance of Professor Anurag Mairal, who leads the Global Outreach Programs at Byers Center for Biodesign at Stanford University. The program was launched in 2019 as a pilot focused on solving an unmet need of a problem facing the society. The program involves high school students, getting together to learn about Design Thinking and how to apply the process towards solving a problem facing the community around them.

In a nutshell this program spans over 3 phases, each lasting approximately 8 weeks.

Phase1: Identify- Understand the Design To Lead methodology, Identify unmet needs of the community, pick top needs

Phase2: Invent - Come up with different Prototypes based on must have and nice to have criteria and finally pick 1 prototype

Phase3: Implement - Develop strategy, scale up & deploy

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Featured Projects 2023

Our Impact

550 +


150 +


30 +

Core Team



80 +

Number of Groups or
Organization Helped

9000 +

Total Number of Hours
Volunteered by Teams


"Design-to-Lead has been an amazing program that has truly helped me step out of my comfort zone and interact with people from all over my community. Would highly recommend highly beneficial for personal development as well as for the betterment of one's community."

Junior, SHS, Chicago Chapter

"I thought that DTL was a beneficial experience as I got to see what it was like to work and create an event “in the real world”. It also helped improve my problem solving skills as well as my ability to work in a team."

Sophomore, SHS, Chicago Chapter

"I would say that I learned a lot about working in teams and collaboration, especially in terms of scheduling events to work for everyone. I really liked DTL and I think that I learned a lot and the skills will be useful for me later on in life."

Vedant Aggarwal
Sophomore, SHS, Chicago Chapter

"During the entire program duration I have not only learnt the concept of Design Thinking methodology, but also the application of it in the real world. This program gave me unique insight into the world around us, as well as how I can make a difference even though I am just a High School Student. The opportunity to talk to the leaders of various organizations has been truly rewarding. I am grateful for the guidance given by our mentor and my team for working together for 6 months. Thank you Anurag ji and team for such a wonderful program!"

Anoushka Rai
Sophomore, SHS, Chicago Chapter

"Design to Lead has been an amazing experience that has allowed me to have a deeper connection to my community. This past year working on DTL has also taught me how to conduct research and find solutions so it has a positive effect on society."

Akshar Kothapalli
Sophomore, DHS, Atlanta Chapter

"Hi all, This is the first year I became involved with the Sewa DTL Program as a mentor. The fact this program is targeting High School students is quite an impressive goal, and the fact that these High Schoolers rose to the challenge to identify and tackle various community issues is a testament to their resourcefulness as well as current and future leadership potential. This was a rewarding opportunity for me to mentor such bright students who persevered in spite of the various challenges that came their way."

Ravi Deva
Mentor, Chicago Chapter

"I enjoyed Design-To-Lead as it allowed me to truly make a difference in my own community. The lessons taught in the sessions are ones that I will carry with me for the rest of my career."

Senior, SHS, Chicago Chapter

"Wonderful experience enabled me to challenge myself. Through the lessons of DTL, I have improved my communication skills and also developed my collaboration and leadership skills."

Sophomore, Troy High School, Detroit Chapter

"I would like to thank Anurag Miral ji for initiating the “Design to Lead” project and introducing it to SEWA LEAD kids . This opportunity gave all the kids and not just limited to kids but also parent volunteers like us to observe the real world problems and give the kids the direction how to approach a problem. As a parent mentor I have enjoyed spending time and have learnt alot from these kids and amazed by the selfless act by core team volunteers and other chapters leads who have spent countless hours in this process together."

Padmaja Kothapalli
Mentor, Atlanta Chapter

"DTL Program is a unique opportunity where students learn to explore problems which they can relate to and solve at community level. They tend to be empathetic leaders of the future. Working with parent mentors and a national ecosystem which engrain in them an entrepreneurial mindset."

Hemant Tanwar
Mentor, Seattle Chapter

"Training High School students so that they can follow a structured approach of Design Thinking methodology for Social Innovation is very powerful. It starts a chain reaction of genuine effort to find creative solutions for problems in our community."

Nimisha Singh
Mentor, Chicago Chapter

"Design To Lead (DTL) is a wonderful program that incorporates design thinking into identifying and solving social issues in our communities. Sewa Chicago fielded the most number of DTL teams in 2023 working on a diverse range of issues, and we are very proud of their work!"

Nags Rajaram
Coordinator, Chicago Chapter

"Being a part of the DTL program has expanded my ability to think critically about the needs in our society. It has also helped me improve my time-management, leadership, and collaboration skills."

Minal Gowda
High School Student, Seattle Chapter

"Every phase of DTL has taught me something new about leadership and communication. The structure of DTL is what really helped me talk to people in a way that made it possible for me to make an impact in my community. Overall I’ve had a great time learning about the process, and I’m really excited to start applying it to my life."

Sophomore, SHS, Chicago Chapter

"DTL has provided me with the opportunity to gain real world experience working with a team early on in my high school career. It has helped me learn how to negotiate and talk with people and be more responsible, and it feels great to make an impact on my community."

Sophomore, SHS, Chicago Chapter

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