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What does Sewa International do?

Sewa International’s mission is to serve humanity in distress, aid local communities, run developmental projects for the underserved, and assist people in transformational change through the power of innovation by mobilizing partners, donors and volunteers.

What is LEAD?

LEAD is a flagship program for Sewa International where High School students engage with local communities by providing opportunities to serve and giving them the support needed to build on their leadership strengths. The aim is to engage youth in the formative years, with the intent of developing future leaders of our society who understand social context and are service minded and turn out to be productive adults.The success of this summer program has led us to consider various avenues for advancing this youth-focused effort.

What is DTL?

The proposed 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.

How is DTL 2023 formulated?

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.

What is the tenative timeline of the DTL program and what do you do in that?

Structure of the Program:

DTL spans over 3 phases over a period of about 6 months. All the timelines suggested are tentative and are subject to change as we improvise the program.

Agenda Example:

Feb 12 (Session 1): Design To Lead Kickoff

- Overview of the Program and Introductions

- Team Formation

- Mentor Assignment

- Introduction to Design Thinking and Biodesign Process

- Background of the Area of Focus - Examples

- Plan for deliverable for Week 1: secondary research of the need area, identification of 5 immersion sites, key areas of investigation - observation guide

Feb 19th (Session 2): Developing Empathy

- Deliverables for Week 1: summary of understanding of the need area, five immersion sites identified, observation guide (30 min)

- Workshop on Empathy Development - guests (possibly an oncologist and a cancer survivor) (1 hour)

- Plan for Deliverable for Week 2: visit to first immersion site (how, when, who, what)

Phase1: Identify - Understand the Design To Lead methodology, Identify unmet needs of the community, pick top needs Feb 12th - April 2nd

Phase2: Invent - Come up with different Prototypes based on must have and nice to have criteria and finally pick 1 prototype April 9th - May 28th

Phase3:Implement - Develop strategy, scale up & deploy June 4th - July 16th

What is the goal of the program?

The goal is to make a positive impact and provide help to at least 1000 people in our community across all chapters via various community projects under the DTL umbrella.

Objectives are as below:

● Empathetically observe their communities to identify a real need.

● Conduct extensive primary and secondary research.

● Communicate with real stakeholders thru interview, email, phone and in-person interviews.

● Brainstorm solution ideas, categorize them, and identify top solutions based on stringent needs criteria.

● Develop prototypes for top solution ideas.

● Implement solution idea with pilot cohort and key stakeholders.

● Improve on solution based on feedback

● Present their learning and solution through a variety of media, including Sewa’s social media streams, blogs, Vlogcasts and developing paper presentation for publication in leading journals.

What times are the meetings?

Every Sunday at 10 am PST.

When will projects of the program be presented?

The National LEAD Conference conducted on the last Saturday of July every year, DTL presentations will be staged here along with Students’ volunteer achievements.

What if I do not find the information I need? Who to contact?

Click here to connect with the helpdesk of Sewa International.


Do I have to register for the Sewa LEAD program in order to register for the Design to Lead Program?

Yes, since this is the subset under the larger LEAD program, all DTL participants are urged to register with the Chapter LEAD program.

What do I need to include in my application?

All general information sections in the intake form and your intent to commit to all the 3 phases of DtL.

A phase has already started, can I still join?

In order to maintain thorough participation it is advised admission to the program should be from the start. As the formed teams will have done a headway into their deliverables thereby gets misaligned.


If I am doing the Design to Lead Program, can I still join other LEAD projects in my chapter?

DTL is a subset of the larger Umbrella program of LEAD (Learn, Educate and Develop) Prime focus of volunteer development under Sewa is to dedicate >70% on Service projects and 30% to online methodical learning (DTL) with equal dedication and committed time. This would motivate participating students for PVSA - President’s Volunteer Service Awards.

What is the time commitment for the program?

This interesting committed program expected up to 3 to 4 hours per week consisting of didactic and working sessions.

Where can I find the program schedule?

The schedule is available on the Master DTL spreadsheet.

I missed a week, how can I catch up?

Sessions are recorded and shared periodically as the program progresses, also located on the Master DTL spreadsheet. Always Discuss with your fellow teammates/mentor for any tasks you might have missed.

Where can I find the deliverables for each week?

They are posted on the Master DTL spreadsheet each week and mentors are also made aware of these deliverables.

How many volunteer hours can I record for Design to Lead (all three phases)?

A maximum cap by national Sewa leadership is 35 hours.

This is in accordance with the Sewa guidelines of 70% service hours and 30 % time spent on learning.

Phase-1 Weekly Sunday meetings- Didactic sessions - 2 hours - 7 Weeks 14 hours
Phase-2 Weekly Sunday meetings- Didactic sessions - 2 hours - 7 Weeks 14 hours
Phase-3 Implementation 7 hours

The attendance will be recorded and you will gain these hours only if you attend the meetings on Sundays

Publishing of Research Paper at conclusion of the DTL program.

The important goal of this program is to teach students the process of writing research papers. This skill is very important in any college education in any field. We will help the team to produce the research paper and publish it on sewa platform showcasing Team’s valuable analysis, research, approaches, solutions and implementation results.

Does the Research Paper need to be peer reviewed?

Yes, any research paper needs to be written with rigor, validated and authentic. DTL has the peer review process and will be peer reviewed, final approved and Published.

Does each student write their own Research paper?

No, Each team will write their research paper and all the students will take part in writing this paper.

When does a research paper need to be written?

The Research paper effort will be initiated after completion of all 3 Phases of the planned DTL project.


How many student/adult mentors must chapters provide for the program?

2 adult mentors per team are required + 2 high school mentors per chapter* (high school mentors are required only for chapters who have done the program before)

What is the time commitment for the DTL program for mentors?

With national meetings as well as some team working sessions expect to allocate around 2 to 3 hours per week.

What experience is needed in order to become an adult mentor?

A willingness to learn!

What experience is needed in order to become a high school student mentor?

Student mentors should have completed at least one cohort of the DTL program in order to be a student mentor. They should also be at least in high school.

What are the expectations of an adult mentor or student mentor?

- To communicate with your team derivables

- Facilitate as many working sessions

- Liaise team concerns to core team thru calls/meetings during all/any help. - Ensure team attendance during all national meetings

- Help their team with any concepts, bottlenecks. Reach out to the National team for assistance.

- Help the team to get appointments/help from the stakeholders.

- Accompany in-person team meetings with stakeholders & field work as required.

- Student mentors roles are similar to the adult mentor roles, except they still depend on adult mentors specifically during field visits and reaching out stakeholders.

- Added advantage of student mentors is they have recent hands-on experience about DTL processes/projects with better understanding of the methodology and can effectively steer their teams.

- Having a student mentor provides LEAD(S) an opportunity to develop their leadership qualities, which is one of the objectives of the program.

Next Steps?

● Complete your registration formalities called by your Chapter LEAD Coordinator.


What do I need to know if I would like to participate in this program?

If you are interested in becoming a partner of this program please contact your chapter co-ordinator for more details. You can know about the program here (Click here)

What would be my role as a partner?

As a partner you will help the team get answers to the question they ask you. You will be involved with the program since the beginning. Students will do their secondary research and then will validate their data by asking you questions during interview. You might be connceted via email, phone call as well as virtual meets using zoom.

How can I help as a partner?

Our teams work on a variety of topics like Food insecurity, Education inequity, Unhousing situation etc. If you have any experience in these area, or you are a subject matter expert for any of these areas in the local community, You can certainly help. You can share your insight, advise the team how to about a situation like this etc.

How much time will I need to spend with the team during all the phases of the program?

The time spent with the team will entirely depend on the task at hand and how the team proceeds with the project. It will approximately be about a couple of hours with the team for each of the 3 phases.

What if I do not find the information I need? Who to contact?

Click here to connect with out helpdesk Sewa Desk.

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