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ArtCenter College of Design Teams With South L.A. High School Students to Find Solutions for Local Nonprofits

Published on Tuesday, September 29, 2020 | 4:49 am

Students from the ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena are working with students from South Los Angeles High School on week-long projects to develop real-world solutions to benefit three local nonprofit organizations.

The project aims to give underserved students exposure to the world of design and opportunities for mentorship, according to the college.

ArtCenter’s “SoLA DesignJam” began Saturday via online meetings, organizers said. It will conclude this Saturday when student teams present their projects to a panel of judges at the TEDxCrenshaw event, which this year is being held virtually.

“The event is the brainchild of ArtCenter Interaction Design students Susie Moon and Dillon Chi, who proposed the DesignJam concept to Designmatters, the college’s social innovation, and humanitarian department, ArtCenter said in a written statement.

“Moon and Chi, mentored by Interaction Design Associate Professor Julian Scaff, are passionate about the goal to generate more representation of people of color in the design-thinking world across all disciplines,” the statement continued. “SoLA DesignJam is intended to address the cyclical nature of representation and serve as a bridge into the design world.”

During the week-long collaboration, the college and high school students will work together and apply a designer’s eye to issues faced by the L.A. Mayor’s Office of Economic Development, Homeboy Industries, the Ezrach Brain Trust Association, and other nonprofit organizations, according to ArtCenter.

Among problems students will be working to find solutions for include helping the Ezrach Brain Trust Association with its work to prepare churches and other religious organizations in Leimert Park for natural disasters and power outages, as well as develop a solar farm concept, according to ArtCenter.

Students will look for ways to help Homeboy Industries improve the recruitment of a diverse team of mental health professionals, as well as develop a signage system to help improve safety in Leimert Park on behalf of the L.A. Mayor’s Office of Economic Development.

The projects are intended to be “brought to life” with real-world application, Designmatters Program Manager Kimberly Velazco said.

The five teams of three to five members are made up of both college and high school students, she explained. The teams were matched based on similar likes and interests.

The teams will compete for prizes that include scholarships to ArtCenter teen courses, a virtual campus tour, and ArtCenter swag, Velazco said. “Hopefully, they will have some continued mentorship from our ArtCenter students along the way.”

The college students will be competing for copies of the professional 3D rendering and animation software KeyShot and mentorship opportunities with professionals in the design industry, according to Velazco. “And obviously, some amazing work in their portfolios to move forward in their career.”

She said she was pleased to see ArtCenter students getting involved with their community.

“I’m overjoyed and proud to see student leaders organize an event engaging underrepresented communities around design,” Velazco said. “Our plan is to continue these kinds of hands-on events over the long term to see these design challenges through to completion as well as continue to inspire youth about art and design educational career pathways.”

More information on the ArtCenter College of Design’s Designmatters program is available online at

More information on the Oct. 3 TEDxCrenshaw event is available at

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