While billions of dollars are spent on consumer insights to ensure that our potato chips are crispy, powerful data to fuel human-centered design are rarely applied by the social sector.

An example of this failure is educational reform — especially for children in poverty. The 1970s brought “Open Schools;” President Bush ushered in “No Child Left Behind;” followed by the Obama Administration’s “Race to the Top;” and the Trump Administration’s elevation of school choice. What these strategies have in common is that they were launched with minimal practitioner engagement in the design phase, imperfect implementation and limited continual feedback for ongoing improvement.

To change this cycle, I believe we must build data systems that reach into classrooms and schools to determine what is needed, as well as what is working and not working — and why. From the design phase through implementation to ongoing refinements, we need continual data from practitioners if we are going to make progress.

To remove barriers to learning and fuel educational equity, my organization, First Book, built First Book Research & Insights, a research arm that gathers qualitative and quantitative data from our network of educators from under-resourced schools/programs serving children in need ages 0-18 across the country. Market research from our network informs the design of our models and drives continuous improvement strategies. We also make these research capacities available to academics, curriculum developers and companies seeking practitioner guidance for strategies and products to benefit children in need.

In the process, we are identifying fundamental learnings regarding how human-centered design can advance the social sector as a whole. Here are three cases where data and insights can enable nonprofits to foster human-centered design solutions.

Read the full article about human-centered design by Kyle Zimmer at Forbes.