What is this?


Join us for a four-day workshop to create effective social sector programs, or redesign programs to increase their effectiveness. You will learn design thinking to advance your work in a more human, creative, and iterative way. This workshop is developed specifically for work in the social sector, and the challenges that come with that. The design thinking work is grounded in the context of strategy: we teach how to scope useful design thinking work from a theory of change.

Workshop Highlights

Human-centered design for effective programs

Learn how to use design to create and refine programs while focusing on the humans you seek to serve.

Interactive, experiential learning

Learn via hands-on project work, activities, and interactive lectures that help build your capacity to be more creative, insightful, collaborative, and strategic.

Workshop project challenge

Go beyond the theoretical and put techniques into practice by working in teams on a real project from a nonprofit or government organization.

“Take-it-home” focus

Understand how to apply these practices to your work when you return home. We will help you identify ways to apply a human-centered design approach to your program, design a day of field work, develop tactics specific to your work, and integrate human-centered design behaviors to your day-to-day work.

Active coaching

Throughout the project work, and your “take it home” work, receive expert coaching in the techniques, behaviors, and mindsets.



August 27-30, 2019 (4-day)

Application Timeline

Applications are currently closed.


Stanford d.school
416 Escondido Mall, Building 550
Stanford, CA 94305


Leaders and practitioners from nonprofit, philanthropy, government, and social impact organizations. The program is geared toward those responsible for strategic planning and decision making, as well as management of colleagues, programs, and projects.


Tuition is offered at three tiers: $5,000, $2,500, and $1,000. Read more in our FAQ section below.

Tuition includes course materials, daily breakfast and lunch, and two dinners. Airfare and lodging are not included in the program fee. We highly encourage individuals to consider applying with their team, or members of their team. A 20% discounted rate is offered for two or more attendees from the same organization.

Download our flyer


Got Questions?

Get Answers

Who should apply? Am I eligible?

This intensive is designed for leaders and senior practitioners in nonprofit, social impact, philanthropy, and government organizations. The program is well-suited for those responsible for strategic planning and decision making, as well as management of colleagues, programs, and projects. We encourage teams from the same organization to apply. Strong applicants will possess the following attributes:

- Commitment to attending all sessions of the workshop;

- Sophisticated knowledge of and experience in the sector in which you are trying to bring about a change;

- Willingness to try new methods, and experiment in your project work;

- Have agency within an organization;

- Commitment to applying practices to concrete project when they return home

How much is the tuition for this program? How do I apply for reduced tuition?

For the four-day workshop, the DSS program offers a three-tiered tuition structure. We have designed this program specifically for leaders in the social sector, and we are cognizant that most employees in social sector organizations do not have access to robust professional development budgets. As a result, we have tried to lower the program cost as much as possible to ensure that the program is accessible to our target audience, especially for communities that have historically had less access to design thinking programs. Therefore, we are providing three tuition levels.

$5,000 Tuition – This level is appropriate for leaders coming from well-resourced organizations, such as foundations, private social enterprise ventures, and social impact consulting companies, many of which have fairly robust personal development funds for their employees. This level is also suited for leaders who are coming from mid-size to large regional, national or global organizations, and are able to either allocate organizational funds towards this learning, or combine their personal resources with their organization’s financial support.

$2,500 Tuition - This level is best suited for leaders who are coming from mid-sized organization with limited budgets and little or no professional development budgets.

$1,000 Tuition – This tier is best suited for individuals in the social sector working for budget-constrained organizations serving those in need, and with no professional development budgets for their employees. Additionally this tuition level is appropriate for applicants who come from under-represented and under-resourced communities.

The request for reduced tuition is included in the application itself and determined on an individual basis. We take into account organizational capacity, financial need, as well as the overall cohort diversity. Please mark the tuition level that best applies to you. Please note that we receive a large number of applications, especially at the $1000 tuition level. While we know that the lower tuition tiers are optimal, we cannot accommodate all the requests at this tier. Therefore, we ask that you seriously consider whether that is the best tier for you, or whether you are able to accommodate the next higher tuition level.

Can I apply with a team from my organization?

We highly encourage individuals to consider applying with their team, or members of their team. We have heard that it is far easier to integrate the behaviors, mindsets, skills and tools to one’s work when they return home if they are doing so as a team, rather than individually. To that end, we provide a 20% discounted rate for two or more attendees from the same organization. If accepted, each team member would pay $4,000. Teams can also apply for further financial assistance. Please note, that each individual must fill out an application, and the applications are evaluated separately.

When is the application deadline? When will I be notified?

March 11, 2019: Applications Open

May 3, 2019: Applications Close

May 24, 2019: Notifications

Who do I contact with questions about DSS?

Questions? Contact Susie at dss@dschool.stanford.edu