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DTL Research Paper 2022

  • 10 Oct 2023 5:10 AM | Sewa International (Administrator)

    Team: Boston/Maine #1
    Team Members: Sriram Munnangi, Ajay Gali, SriRam Juttu
    Reviewed by: Ashish Patel , Hemanth Tanwar, Anupama Kapoor
    Date Published: Oct 10 2022

    There has been a growing population of immigrants and refugees in our state, and the government has struggled with housing and feeding these groups of people. The state partnered with some hotels in various cities in Maine to house the immigrant and refugee population. Some recent immigrants who struggled to pay for food and make a living were allowed to be housed in the hotels as well. Because there is a struggle with getting food to all the people housed in the hotel, we wanted to create a plan to utilize existing resources and form a system to get food around to each hotel.

    When we first started the Design to Lead program we didn’t know exactly what we wanted to do. Based on the list of ideas that the core team provided to us, we thought about investigating food insecurity among immigrants. We knew about the population of immigrants because we’ve been seeing more and more immigrant kids at our schools. Our team had a group discussion about what our need area should be, and we decided that we would focus on immigrants. We began researching this topic and found dozens of articles to find our stakeholders. We learned about the city’s efforts with housing the immigrants, and a few stakeholders who have helped. With the aid of the core team, we created a stakeholder map and filled it with all the information we gathered. As a team, we gathered contact information for stakeholders and began reaching out to them for interviews. We were able to get a couple interviews with some stakeholders, which really helped us with adding need statements to our miro board.

    In the second phase of DTL, we completed investigating our need area. To begin, we first ranked our 30+ best-need statements via. many bases such as feasibility and efficiency as we narrowed the vast array down to five of the very best need statements, which we then filtered to the top three. After that, we analyzed these solutions with ranking criteria that we developed with the help of the core team. Our group had a meeting to see which need statement was the best by ranking them in each criteria category. With our top three need statements, we had to develop solutions and prototypes for them. We cycled through many ideas like using social media to promote the program or putting it on our school’s website. After this extensive process, however, we needed to do even more. The solutions we came up with needed various steps for approval including, but not at all limited to contacting determined stakeholders to follow up with our plan to start a food donation program. 

    In phase 3, we began implementing our project. We created a food donation program with the assistance of the Maine Immigrants’ Rights Coalition (MIRC). With the help of this system, we delivered cooked meals to immigrants/refugees housed in hotels and our preferred hotel was Howard Johnson. We helped cook the meals with chefs who, with the approval of MIRC, were working at the hotels. The Organization also utilized large food companies like Tyson which have food plants in Maine to donate batches of food for the program. All in all, we implemented the prototype and received positive feedback from the immigrants. We are still trying to continue with this program, to ensure its sustainability.

    In conclusion, to achieve our goal of helping those in need, especially immigrants with a lack of resources, we decided to try our level best to positively impact in an overall attempt to decrease the rates and numbers regarding food insecurity in immigrants through the utilization and use of design, or the Stanford University Biodesign methodology, the process taught to us by the Design to Lead program via. Dr. Anurag Mairal. We made a proper plan to help solve this problem and at least try to make a tiny dent and do as much help, which is very little, in this universal, critical, and current public issue. First, we researched stakeholders and determining questions. We then brainstormed our problems, needs, and outcomes. We also thought of many, many need statements which we narrowed via. various filters to find the best for which we found solutions and prototypes. Finally, and last but not least, we implemented our program with huge success. Right now, however, we are working on sustaining this progress. overall, we have learned much through this lengthy, yet very beneficial process. Although we had put in a lot of time and work, it was all worth it in the end, as we have developed an ultimately working program that is helping the lives of many individuals. We hope that our efforts don't go to waste and that this program will only continue to assist others, both directly and indirectly, and in minor and major ways.

  • 5 Oct 2022 4:57 AM | Sewa International (Administrator)

    Team: Pennsylvania/Delaware
    Team Members: Akash Kapoor & Rishi Kamta
    Reviewed by: Ashish Patel, Hemanth Tanwar, Anupama Kapoor
    Date Published: Oct 5 2022

    In the Design to Lead Program, employing design thinking principles aided in identifying and building a solution that addressed one real need in the community. This non-linear, iterative process involved five stages—Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype, and Test. During the course of the program, a specific issue was identified that significantly impacted a specific section of the community. A potential solution was proposed that could mitigate the impact, and implemented a small-scale solution within the community. The issue the PA-DE team worked on was on creating awareness of mental health issues that were impacting the teens of Chester County Community. Mental health encompasses psychological, emotional, and social well-being and will have short-term and long-term repercussions if illnesses are not identified and treated. Based on this critical gap that team identified, the need statement was developed – “A way to address the lack of awareness of mental health among families of high school students in the Chester County school district in order to spread the knowledge of mental health illnesses by 10%.”

    After identifying the unmet need, a need statement was developed methodically by employing a brainstorming process, and conducting the extensive primary and secondary research. During Phase one, the Miro board was used for brainstorming sessions, which involved creating a stakeholder map, and developing and refining need statements. While the primary research entailed interviews with experts and members of the impacted community, the secondary research included examining and analyzing information from primary sources. Primary research provided an in-depth perspective on the real-life experiences of subject matter experts from the field. The subject matter experts provided major insights into the research.

    Dr. Sachi Kamtam, Dr. Patience Demosky, and Bernadette Selgrath - Education coordinator at the National Alliance of Mental Illness Club were consulted throughout the process.

    During phase one, stakeholders were mapped out and the team interviewed doctors, therapists, teachers, peers, and school counselors about their experiences with mental health. These interviews were beneficial and helped us identify potential real-world problems that other stakeholders found important. For example, during the interview with one of the parents, it was found that some parents lacked awareness about teenage mental health which is a profound problem and gap as parents interact and impact many teenagers’ lives. Without this knowledge, there was inadvertently a missing link of empathy and compassion that was required to address the needs of teenagers suffering from mental health illnesses. Additionally, interviews were also conducted on a personal level talking to friends and family about their experiences.

    After researching and brainstorming, the acronym for the project was selected - SMILE Solution for Mental Health Illness Leveraging Empathy. Furthermore, a website was prototyped that would solve the unmet need. The process of prototyping involved carefully considering every little detail in the website from the design to the information that is required. It was agreed to create different tabs on the website which contain additional information that would be useful for the viewers. For example, the tabs for ted-talk videos, signs, and signals of mental health, and a donation page where people can donate money to mental health charities. Counselors are also listed on the website and can be reached out to by teenagers to answer questions as well as provide any necessary help. After prototyping, the idea was implemented onto a stand-alone website, and eventually published the website after completing its design. As a part of the project, it was agreed to create a Mental Health Awareness club (with guidance from National Alliance on Mental Health – “Nami”) in schools, one of which is now being commissioned in The Shipley school, in Philadelphia.

    Using various tools such as the website ( and tools like infographics, the news of the mental awareness club has spread. The students are slowly warming up to the idea of having a mental health awareness club. As of late November, there have been more than 400 visitors to this website. We hope that this club will provide teenagers with a safe platform to open up and share their challenges without any fear of being judged.

    Out of the three ideas proposed, the standalone website has been implemented, and looking forward to integrating with various Chester County organizations such as school websites and the Sewa website. Furthermore, the project's ambition is to closely collaborate with NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) which is the nation's largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness.

    Throughout the various stages of the three phases, the team reflected upon things that went well and areas that could be improved. The DTL project inculcated critical skills like planning, organizing, prioritizing, time management, and collaborating with teams to solve real-world problems. With these learned skills, the students of DTL are well-prepared for college and life.

  • 14 Sep 2022 4:30 AM | Sewa International (Administrator)

    Team: Los Angeles #2
    Team Members: Tanaya Ingale, Gautam Valiveti, Sreekar Peddada, Aneesh Dasari, Shreyas Sakharkar
    Reviewed by: Ashish Patel, Hemanth Tanwar, Anupama Kapoor
    Date Published: Sep 14 2022

    Over 69,000 people in Los Angeles are homeless. That is a huge number, and it has gone up in the past two years. When someone is homeless, they often cannot access resources to meet their basic needs. During SEWA’s LEAD 2022 programme, LA2 recognised this glaring issue and decided to focus on the homeless population by delivering one of those needs: clothing.

    Needs Statement

    LA2’s need statement was “A way to address the lack of basic necessities in homeless individuals in order to seek and retain employment opportunities.” Those who are homeless often face difficulty getting employed, even if they are clean of drugs and professionally skilled. But in the meanwhile, they need to take care of themselves. Since they have no job, they have no money and are unable to afford these resources on their own. So, LA2 wanted to focus on a resource that could possibly help them get employment later on.


    The team thought long and hard about the solution and realised that giving clothes would be the most viable option. Most people have clothing that they want to donate, and most homeless people’s clothing wears out quickly or is of poor quality. They then narrowed the scope to the adult homeless population. Clothing could empower them while applying for a job, make them look more favourable to an employer, and just keep them comfortable. Thus, a stock of both professional and comfortable clothing were kept. LA2 also wanted to help homeless individuals by boosting their self esteem. After some thought, they decided to hold two “free pop-up shop” events in Santa Monica, which had a large concentration of homeless people. By offering this large variety of comfortable and professional clothing for free along with a quality service experience, they will help the home less people and understand their problems


    LA2 looked for public areas in Santa Monica and settled on two locations for the pop-ups: the Metro station and a beachside park, places that had large gatherings of homeless people. The set up consisted of a clothes drying rack, hangers, and clothes to hold up the clothing in a neat way and spaced apart enough to allow for volunteers to deliver service and assist. They made flyers to get the word out to people, and people trickled in. Individuals were able to choose one shirt, one pair of pants, and an accessory like a bag. In the second run, pull-top canned food was also offered. First event lasted 2-3 hours and we distributed most of the clothes. For the second event, we gathered a lot more clothes based on the success of the first event. Second event also lasted only 2 hours as we had to wrap up because of permit issues. We donated the remaining clothes to a homeless shelter

    Promoting and Collaborating

    LA2 worked within the local Desi community to collect clothing and promoted itself in many ways. The main method was contacting people they knew through texting and posting a flyer on social media and websites like LinkedIn to gain attention. Originally, LA2 had planned to create a Facebook account, but with a timeline of 3 weeks, they realised it would be better to leverage connections and social media presences they already had. LA2 reached out to a local food pantry affiliated with SEWA to collect clothing. They also reached out to multiple stores for any extra clothing they had via email but got no replies. On the days of the pop-ups, multiple posters were put up in the vicinity to attract people to collect clothing. Finally, they posted photos on Reddit to share what they did.


    Two events were held in Santa Monica, CA that helped over 50 people get clothing. Some people were not able to access shelters for various reasons and were able to get clothing through the popup. The group also interacted with 15 others who did not get any clothing, but shared their stories and feedback. It was a decent success that LA2 hopes to improve and continue. Both givers and receivers felt touched by the acts of volunteerism, and it was a really wholesome thing that brought joy to many homeless. Seeing people smile and feel uplifted looking through the clothes was the highlight of this distribution method. Just to share one personal story (among several others), there was this black lady who is homeless but her children are doing alright. So when she goes and meets them she wants to look presentable. So she came and selected a pretty skirt and blouse for visiting her children and a regular cotton shirt for daily wear. It is a heart touching moment and we would not have that kind of experience if we simply collected and donated clothes to a homeless shelter. In that sense we truly satisfied an unmet need.


    The group looks forward to continuing these pop-ups with SEWA in the future. One proposal is to integrate it into Diwali celebrations to spread the light to others. As the event grows every year, more services could be added, like food, hygiene services, and health check-ups. A true breakthrough can be achieved if we are able to invite employers to that event and help the homeless get jobs. It would be a big blessing to the homeless of Los Angeles County and instil values of empathy within the younger generation and the wider community.


    Through the SEWA LEAD 2022 programme, the team LA2 got together to help the homeless acquire the basic need of clothing in a way that helped to boost morale: free pop-ups. Two events that reached over 50 people were held in Santa Monica, CA. It was a decent success and LA2 hopes to continue and grow this again during SEWA’s Diwali celebrations. Clothes are so much more than pieces of cloth strung together. They are part of a person’s identity, a source of comfort, and a source of self esteem. Hopefully, LA2’s pop-up project can continue to make an impact.

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