Hutchison School

Empowering students with design thinking




The Hutchison Serves program identified a desire to support & build capacity with sophomore & junior students through a project proposal process that would give them the opportunity to better understand & serve the needs of the broader Memphis community. 


Hutchison provides high school students with the opportunity to volunteer and serve the broader Memphis community in many different ways. Over the years this has become a growing area of interest both from the student and school leadership perspective as the Institution realizes the importance of preparing future leaders to go into the world to solve problems through an empathetic lens.


As part of the Hutchison Serves program, Hutchison and Little Bird worked together to give students the opportunity to learn about design thinking as an approach to learning the mindsets and skills needed to better understand the needs of the Memphis community. Through a series of design thinking workshops, students learned the theory of design thinking through examples, demonstrations, and group feedback. Once students were trained, Little Bird prepared an accompanying project toolkit for students that would frame their service leadership opportunities through the identification of their aspirational goals, identifying an area organization that aligned to their goals, and a process for conducting interviews to learn what the organization’s unmet needs were and how they might be able to help.

Once the potential opportunity was identified, students worked to tested their service opportunity with stakeholders to ensure they were listening and validating the potential. Completing the documentation process, students incorporated their findings into a final proposal pitch that was presented to review committee.


Over 60 students participated in the design thinking workshops. Many students were encouraged to collaborate together on projects were similar goals existed to bring greater capacity to the proposed outcomes. In all, over 12 groups pitched final proposals to the review committee. Going forward, Hutchison Serves will continue to make design thinking and the project toolkit part of the process to ensure service projects bring stronger outcomes to the Memphis community and empower students to contribute meaningful change in the world.