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Design Studio for Social Intervention (DS4SI)

 1946 Washington Street, 2nd Floor
 Roxbury, MA 02118
[P] (617) 412-8217
[F] (617) 5232070
Lori Lobenstine:
Lori Lobenstine
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 Printable Profile (Summary / Full)
EIN 04-2261109

LAST UPDATED: 03/06/2017
Organization DBA --
Former Names --
Organization received a competitive grant from the Boston Foundation in the past five years No


Mission StatementMORE »

The Design Studio for Social Intervention (DS4SI) is dedicated to changing how social justice is imagined, developed and deployed here in the United States. We are creating a design studio for the progressive arm of the nonprofit sector in order to support the sector’s ability to create new forms of effective social intervention and the exploration of new ways to be interventionists.

Mission Statement

The Design Studio for Social Intervention (DS4SI) is dedicated to changing how social justice is imagined, developed and deployed here in the United States. We are creating a design studio for the progressive arm of the nonprofit sector in order to support the sector’s ability to create new forms of effective social intervention and the exploration of new ways to be interventionists.

FinancialsMORE »

Fiscal Year July 01, 2016 to June 30, 2017
Projected Income $349,082.00
Projected Expense $383,991.00

ProgramsMORE »

  • Creativity Labs
  • Fairmount Cultural Corridor
  • Social Emergency Response Centers (SERC)
  • Youth Activism Design Institute (YADI)

Revenue vs. Expense ($000s)

Expense Breakdown 2015 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2014 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2013 (%)

For more details regarding the organization's financial information, select the financial tab and review available comments.


Mission Statement

The Design Studio for Social Intervention (DS4SI) is dedicated to changing how social justice is imagined, developed and deployed here in the United States. We are creating a design studio for the progressive arm of the nonprofit sector in order to support the sector’s ability to create new forms of effective social intervention and the exploration of new ways to be interventionists.

Background Statement

We function as a creativity lab for social justice work in the public sphere. The Studio is a space where activists, artists, academics and the larger public come together to imagine new approaches to social change and new angles to address complex social issues. We also design social interventions that engage populations in imagining and designing new solutions to social problems.

Impact Statement

  •  Working with our Fairmount Cultural Corridor partners, we have supported local artists in engaging over 2000 community residents in interactive creativity labs that have brought people together, created spaces to weigh in on relevant (often invisible) planning processes and to step into creating small transformative changes for public spaces in Upham's.
  • Nationally and locally, we have brought new design tools to the nonprofit sector, making it possible for community organizing groups to see and do their work in more creative and effective ways. One current example of this is our Social Emergency Response Centers.
  • By using small art commissions and being dedicated to supporting nontraditional artists (primarily artists of color and artists from low income communities), we have increased awareness, visibility and opportunities for local nontraditional artists in Boston.
  • We are continuing to increase our impact on the arts world, particularly in the arena of social practice. Over the past year this has included being invited to present at Creative Time, Hand in Glove, En Cuentro and other gatherings, as well as being asked to write for Animating Democracy, and more.
  • Increasing our staff to better meet local and national demands for creativity labs, white papers, social intervention design and other supports for individuals and organizations trying to address complex social problems.
  • Increasing our web presence so that it is a more vibrant, interactive tool for artists, academics and activists who are interested in learning and sharing tools for designing social interventions and other cultural tactics.
  • Continuing to be a resource and space that brings together artists, activists, and academics both locally and nationally

Needs Statement

  • We host a number of public events and workshops at the Design Studio, and our audiences are tremendously diverse. It is exciting to bring together local residents, activists, artists and academics, and we believe that there are not enough spaces doing this. We would love to do so more often, and aspire to having a staff member dedicated to hosting a wide variety of events to bring together Boston residents and increase awareness of using art and design to solve complex social problems. ($60,000)
  • Our creativity labs have been highly successful at supporting participants in thinking creatively about new frames and new solutions. Locally, we have designed labs for Upham's Corner ArtPlace, On the Move (transportation equity coalition), Boston TAG (progressive educators alliance). We would love to do more of this work and be able to offer it to grassroots organizations at a low-cost. ($50,000-100,000)
  • As a tiny organization (3FTE plus commissioned artists and volunteers), we urgently need to increase our capacity to seek and manage grants. A part-time development specialist would be invaluable. ($25,000)

CEO Statement


Board Chair Statement


Geographic Area Served

Throughout the United States
We work both locally in Boston and nationally. Our local work includes our role in Upham's Corner ArtPlace, as well as our support for local organizations doing education justice, transportation justice, food justice and more.

Organization Categories

  1. Community Improvement, Capacity Building - Urban & Community Economic Development
  2. Civil Rights, Social Action, Advocacy -
  3. -

Independent research has been conducted on this organization's theory of change or on the effectiveness of this organization's program(s)



Creativity Labs

Our creativity labs are immersive environments that assist residents, artists, merchants and activists in thinking more expansively about the kinds of social problems they are trying to solve. Our aim is that our participants find unexpected and new points of convergence, develop insights about their problem they may not have considered otherwise and find new levers for creating the kinds of change they seek. We use a variety of design tools to research embedded and overlooked elements of daily life and culture that tend to complicate how we see, describe and solve problems. We also engage participants in using design techniques for developing and testing new ideas, and we are committed to using creative tools for sharing community input back to the community.

Examples of DS4SI creativity labs include:
  • Public Kitchen
  • Making Planning Processes Public
  • STREETLAB: Upham's
  • Action Lab
  • M/B/T/A Lab
  • School Lab
Budget  $110,000.00
Category  Arts, Culture & Humanities, General/Other
Population Served At-Risk Populations US Poor,Economically Disadvantaged,Indigent
Program Short-Term Success 

    • Collecting data: In this case, we don’t mean collecting data to measure our impact. We’re collecting data to share with everyone working on solving a complex social problem. We’ve learned a lot about innovative ways of collecting ideas and sharing them back to communities and organizations. We have intentionally included data-collection in each of our Labs, so we are able to do research and development for the social justice sector. We are also exploring more ways of sharing our data with a variety of decision-makers. For example, we are sharing people’s opinions and ideas about planning processes in Upham’s Corner with the Boston Redevelopment Authority and more local planning groups like the ArtPlace Initiative.
    • Outreach and support for nontraditional artists; We have learned that it is not enough to put our art commissions out through regular channels and hope artists of color and artists from the neighborhoods we’re working in apply. Instead it is critical to spread the word through multiple channels, often relying on our own roots in the communities and issues we’re working in. We’ve also learned that while many community-based artists of color have long been doing what is now called “social practice,” the field of social practice is currently overwhelmingly white. So we are actively working to make artists of color more visible and engage them in existing (and new!) conversations around arts, activism and social practice.
Program Long-Term Success 

Long-term goals:· T

· To lift up design methods as distinct and equally important as strategic planning methods within the social justice sector

To have sector visionaries, intermediaries, funders, local organizations and residents have more familiarity and willingness to explore new solutions to engaging populations and solving complex social problems
To have social justice organizations engage artists in new ways of helping explore new solutions and possibilities for communities trying to frame and solve problems that they identify
Program Success Monitored By 
It is hard to measure the impact of an artistic approach to social change. What conversations go on after people leave the Public Kitchen? How does someone see themself differently after not-seeing themself in an Upham’s Corner mirror? How is an organization’s work shaped by realizing the connections between transit equity, human development and mobility? We look forward to continuing to improve our capacity to measure these things, as well as working with others who are thinking in the same way.
In the meantime, we measure the impact of our creativity labs by measuring the number of participants and their level of participation, collecting their ideas and sharing them back to them and measuring the number of requests we get from communities and organizations to bring this sort of thinking to them. 
Examples of Program Success  One example of this kind of program success is the on-going evolution of the Public Kitchen. After hosting over 500 community members over 9 days in 2012, the Public Kitchen was in popular demand. It was interesting to hear how many people wondered if we were really going to open a Public Kitchen. We reminded them that we were a design studio, and we'd put out a new idea that anyone could continue to test and use themselves. The response has been really interesting and positive: Many community organizations have borrowed the mobile kitchens for community events; 40 residents worked with two local organizers and The Food Project to host the 2nd Upham's Corner area Public Kitchen (in 2013) and the The Food Project is now hosting the mobile kitchens for regular community use; the Public Kitchen was recently featured in an exhibit called "Living as Form (Nomadic Version) at the Carpenter Center; and a number of other cities have requested a Public Kitchen.

Fairmount Cultural Corridor

The goal of FCC is community revitalization through creative placemaking. As a member of the Fairmount Cultural Corridor, DS4SI engages artists, residents and merchants in imagining new possibilities for the communities along the Fairmount Line. We work with local artists to create pop-up exhibits that bring people together in new ways. Our 9-day Public Kitchen (Fall 2012) engaged over 500 community residents in an imagined public infrastructure that could make their daily lives more vibrant, affordable and healthy. Our week-long Making Planning Processes Public exhibit (Spring 2013) invited hundreds of community members to step into the planning that is going on around them, making it accessible through integrated community signage and performances that engaged people of all ages in seeing themselves as planners. Our 6-Saturday STREETLAB: Upham's  engaged community members in a tactical urban lab in which they designed and built micro-solutions to local public space issues.Our People's Redevelopment Authority (PRA) is currently engaging residents, artists and planners in imagining what Boston would be like if planning was in the hands of residents.
In addition to these events and interventions, we work along the corridor to support and highlight local artists. This work has included offering ExpressingBoston Public Art Fellowships from 2013-2016. 
Budget  $100,000.00
Category  Community Development, General/Other Neighborhood Revitalization
Population Served Poor,Economically Disadvantaged,Indigent Families At-Risk Populations
Program Short-Term Success 

One important short-term impact is how our interactive “pop-up” exhibits have engaged a wide cross-section of residents, artists and merchants in imagining new possibilities for their neighborhood. For example,  Public Kitchen brought together over 600 local residents to enjoy a week of fresh food, cooking classes & competitions, a mobile kitchen and Hub, food-inspired art and much more. Many residents marveled at how food brought them together with neighbors or nearby business owners who they’d never met or spoken to. Making Planning Processes Public, an interactive week-long pop-up exhibit, lowered the barriers to planning in Uphams Corner by engaging over 500 community members with creative planning tools on the streets and in the exhibit.  STREETLAB: Upham's gave them a glimpse at how easy it could be to partner with neighbors and local artisans to make public space improvements, be they DIY benches for bus stops, making an "alley gallery" to reclaim a local cut-through alley, etc

Program Long-Term Success 
We measure our long-term impact not by level of initial participation, but by whether or not Upham's Corner community members have experienced something that impacts them in 3 primary ways:
1) They have a greater  number of relationships with neighbors, artists, merchants and nonprofits, and are better able to see and activate these relationships as resources.
2) They feel greater authority to take action in Upham's--whether its to continue the Public Kitchen in their own way, to weigh in on planning processes or  to take on public space transformations themselves, rather than waiting for the city or some other agency to make it happen.
3) They feel a part of Upham's--important to its future and reflected in its cultural activities. 
Program Success Monitored By  So far we've been able to measure success in terms of numbers engaged, desires to continue initiatives, ways our data and approaches have been used and requested, and interviews with Upham's Corner passers-by during STREETLAB: Upham's. For more examples of how this has worked, see next question.
Examples of Program Success 
Examples of success include:
Public Kitchen--examples of community leadership inspired by PK include having 2 local artists and gardeners partner with The Food Project and 15 residents to design and lead a 4-day "PK 2" for almost 100 residents;  we've also had the mobile kitchens requested and loaned out to over 10 community events.
From MPPP, we saw the success of having over 100 residents getting to weigh in on a city plan to put a fence down the heart of Columbia Road. When feedback was relayed to planners, the fence was defeated. 
From STREETLAB: Upham's, we saw residents move from skeptical to fully supportive, and now they are asking for some of the temporary solutions to become permanent. We are planning on working with local artists and residents to use $5,000 for small permanent solutions this Spring. 

Social Emergency Response Centers (SERC)

We are in a social emergency. In natural emergencies like hurricanes or floods, emergency response centers provide food, shelter, and healing. Social Emergency Response Centers (SERCs) re-imagine these centers to take on the real and pressing social emergency that we are facing today. They help us pivot from despair, rage and hopelessness into collective, creative and radical action.

Social Emergency Response Centers (SERCs) are…

● temporary, emergent and creative spaces co-led by activists and artists

● pop ups in response to a new attack on a population or to a long-standing injustice

● spaces for everyone from highly engaged frontline activists to folks who identify as concerned allies to engage the social emergency in new and creative ways    

In January and February 2017, we prototyped our first Social Emergency Response Centers in the Dorchester neighborhood in Boston. Hundreds of neighbors, artists, activists and visitors of all ages attended, coming together for activities as diverse as they were: taiko drumming, political workshops, printmaking, yoga, self-defense, story circles, a People's Movement Assembly, and more. We found that people were hungry for the opportunity to connect with others, to do individual and collective healing, to break bread together, to learn together, and to step into "reconstruction"--imagining how to rebuild a stronger democracy. Through this, participants created stronger bonds between themselves to both fight hate crimes and to embody the kinds of welcoming spaces they wanted to fight for.

Now we propose to partner with organizations and artists in cities and communities across the country to collectively create SERCs in their neighborhoods. We will create SERC Kits that have all the key elements of a SERC, and we will support on-the-ground organizations from youth programs to community organizing groups, schools, churches, mosques, libraries, and art galleries. Currently we have local interest from Boston City Hall (New Urban Mechanics), Cambridge, Northampton, MA and Hartford, CT. Nationally we have interest from Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, LA, Seattle, Minneapolis, Oakland, Albuquerque, Orange, NJ, Iowa City and more.

Budget  $50,000.00
Category  Civil Rights, Social Action & Advocacy, General/Other Civil Rights, Social Action & Advocacy, General/Other
Population Served At-Risk Populations US
Program Short-Term Success 

We believe the Social Emergency Response Centers will be successful if people take it upon themselves to continue them in their own ways. So far, that has meant that local SERC visitors have said things like, "I think we should do this every month until we get in the habit of coming together like this." And "I want to do this at my church." "Can I bring this to my college?" Our strategy of creating SERC Kits is a first step: Putting the tools to create SERCs in the hands of as many people as possible. We believe the current scale of the social emergency is such that demand for SERCs will be popping up across the country in communities large and small. We are literally rolling out a new infrastructure, so if folks step into it and see it as critical to building community, reconstructing democracy and supporting each other in fighting hate crimes and hate legislation, we will know we've succeeded.

Additionally we would like to find non-interuptive ways of exploring how the SERC itself helps participants address the many profoundly negative impacts they identified themselves as experiencing from the social emergency (in the voluntary intake form). We heard from many participants that the space was highly therapeutic as well as empowering, engaging, flexible and supportive. If SERCs help individuals and communities come together to support each other in multiple ways, this would be another success.
Program Long-Term Success 
People will launch their own SERCs as needed to rebuild democracy,  create spaces where they can bring their whole selves, be in community with others, and imagine new solutions to complex problems.
SERCs will pop up around the country whenever a marginalized group is attacked. 
SERCs will help connect marginalized groups with allies and create spaces where they can come up with new solutions together. 
Program Success Monitored By  --
Examples of Program Success  SERCs are brand new (2017), so our success so far is actually not being able to keep up with the levels of interest locally and nationally. As a tiny organization with only 3 staff, we have been overwhelmed by people and requests! Our volunteer meetings to prepare for the first SERC could barely fit into our studio (capacity: 75), the 6-day SERC prototype could barely fit into the host organization's beautiful open space (capacity: 125+), and our inboxes are overflowing with requests for phone calls and kits, as well as food donations, workshop offerings, volunteers and more. This is both very rewarding and somewhat concerning, since we want to be able to provide SERCs and SERC Kits, at no cost, wherever we can.

Youth Activism Design Institute (YADI)

For the past 6 years, YADI has supported youth organizers in Boston in taking on issues critical to them. Our primary work has been with young people interested in trying horizontal--youth to youth-- approaches to reducing social violence. To this end, we have co-designed Big Urban Games (2008), The Grill Project (2009), Let's Flip It (2010-present) and the Youth-to-Youth Action Summit which helped youth and youth organizations understand those three interventions as a body of work in the field. (
In addition, we have supported youth and youth organizations which are doing work around education justice (School Lab;, transportation justice, environmental justice and jobs for youth. We regularly provide technical support and design space for these organizations as they design their campaigns, actions and youth leadership opportunities. 
Budget  $65,000.00
Category  Civil Rights, Social Action & Advocacy, General/Other
Population Served Adolescents Only (13-19 years) Poor,Economically Disadvantaged,Indigent At-Risk Populations
Program Short-Term Success 
Short term success over 4 intensive summers of YADI was measured by the number of youth that our youth interns impacted, the number of events they put on and the amount of interest (measured in returning youth, demand for supplies, demand for events, etc) in what they were doing. We also strove to measure the skills that our interns had gained, since we worked with them the most intensely. We were interested in their ability to use their new found design tools to create other changes in their future.
On-going success includes the fruition of those 4 summers: As these youth became members and then adult staff at several local youth organizing groups, they now regularly reach out to DS4SI when they are trying to find new ways to take on social justice. Our impact on the field, then, is measured by youth organizations' ability and willingness to try new approaches. We also see on-going interest specifically in Let's Flip It.

Program Long-Term Success 
Our long-term success would occur on several levels:
1) For our work with horizontal approaches to reducing social violence: our long-term success would include a) reduction of violence between young people in the neighborhoods hardest hit (Mattapan, Roxbury, Dorchester, etc.), and b) a greater awareness, ability and authority amongst youth to take on these issues with each in creative and direct ways.
2) Across our YADI work: a greater awareness, ability and willingness in the progressive nonprofit sector of youth programming to take on new ways to engage youth in both setting and solving complex social problems that they identify. 
Program Success Monitored By 
It is not easy to measure success here. One way we have been able to measure the on-going success of Let's Flip It ( is the on-going awareness of the campaign, the number of times youth asked for and distributed materials, the number of materials that went out, the number of events that LFI was present at, etc.
As for measuring our impact on the field, it is useful to see that the organizations which we've worked with in the past continue to ask for input and creative time at the Studio as they design their annual Youth Jobs March, their Safety Justice campaign, their "Grow or Die" campaign, etc. 
Examples of Program Success  Let's continue to use Let's Flip It as a case study. Using the metrics in the previous question, we can measure things like: over 20 youth organizations and over 150 youth distributed 10,000 flyers, 2,000 buttons, 3000 stickers and hundreds of LFI hats and t-shirts, including having a presence at events ranging from city hall musical events to rollerskate parties, My Summer in the City events, youth rallies, youth dances, and at bus stations and T stops. It is useful to us to measure these things because one of our questions was whether a campaign like LFI could have its own legs. Indeed, so many youth came to us independently that we created a flyer with a Let's Flip It hotline one summer so that youth could instantly let us know when they needed more materials. It was not about what our output was, but about what their desire was. Having youth committed to getting LFI up with stickers, spray chalk, flyers, etc meant they truly owned the campaign.

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments



CEO/Executive Director Mr. Kenneth Bailey
CEO Term Start Sept 2005
CEO Email
CEO Experience Kenneth started his activism in the early eighties as a teenager, working in his neighborhood for tenants’ rights and decent housing, targeting the St. Louis Housing Authority. He went on to work for COOL, a national campus-based student organizing program, and then moved to Boston where he worked for the Ten Point Coalition, Interaction Institute for Social Change, and Third Sector New England, as well as being on the Board for Resource Generation.Most recently he has been a trainer and a consultant, primarily on issues of organizational development and community building. He first realized the need for a more “designerly” approach to community work while developing parts of the Boston Community Building Curriculum for The Boston Foundation. This workshop asked community activists and residents to think about creative ways to work with their community assets – existing social relationships, individual’s gifts and skills, and untapped local resources. Many community residents remained locked in conventional nonprofit approaches to working with community assets. They weren’t obliged to, they just knew no other way. He realized then that activists needed new tools to redesign approaches for community change, which led him to build a design studio for social activism.
Co-CEO Ms Lori Lobenstine
Co-CEO Term Start Sept 2005
Co-CEO Email
Co-CEO Experience Lori grew up in a family of community and union organizers, and decided early on that working with youth was her passion and her route to creating change. She has been a youthworker for the past twenty years, in settings as diverse as classrooms, basketball courts, museums and foreign countries. Most recently she has been a Director of Teen Programs for Girls Incorporated of Holyoke, a BEST trainer (teaching youth development concepts to other youthworkers), and a very successful basketball coach. Throughout these experiences, she has struggled with the challenges of creating new designs with youth, in fields that are often top-heavy and funding-driven. As a life-long activist, she is inspired by the vision that new design tools and a greater design awareness will bring new energy and power to our work.Lori is also the impresario of a thriving online and off-line community of female sneaker customizers, collectors, designers and connoisseurs.

Former CEOs and Terms

Name Start End
-- -- --

Senior Staff

Name Title Experience/Biography
-- -- --


Award Awarding Organization Year
-- -- --


Affiliation Year
-- --
Member of state association of nonprofits? Yes
Name of state association Massachusetts Nonprofit Network (TSNE)

External Assessments and Accreditations

External Assessment or Accreditation Year
-- --



CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments


Foundation Comments


Staff Information

Number of Full Time Staff 1
Number of Part Time Staff 2
Number of Volunteers 10
Number of Contract Staff 1
Staff Retention Rate % 100%

Staff Demographics

Ethnicity African American/Black: 1
Asian American/Pacific Islander: 1
Caucasian: 1
Hispanic/Latino: 1
Native American/American Indian: 0
Other: 0
Other (if specified): 0
Gender Female: 2
Male: 2
Not Specified 0

Plans & Policies

Organization has Fundraising Plan? Under Development
Organization has Strategic Plan? No
Years Strategic Plan Considers --
Management Succession Plan --
Business Continuity of Operations Plan --
Organization Policies And Procedures Under Development
Nondiscrimination Policy Yes
Whistle Blower Policy Yes
Document Destruction Policy --
Directors and Officers Insurance Policy --
State Charitable Solicitations Permit --
State Registration --

Risk Management Provisions


Reporting and Evaluations

Management Reports to Board? Yes
CEO Formal Evaluation and Frequency No N/A
Senior Management Formal Evaluation and Frequency No N/A
Non Management Formal Evaluation and Frequency No N/A


Board Chair Ms. Ditra Edwards
Board Chair Company Affiliation The Praxis Project
Board Chair Term July 2011 -
Board Co-Chair --
Board Co-Chair Company Affiliation --
Board Co-Chair Term -

Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
Mo Barbosa Health Resources in Action --
Ditra Edwards The Praxis Project --
Jessica Flaherty BAGLY --
Hiroko Kikuchi No Affiliation --
Malia Lazu Future Boston Alliance --
Hez Norton Third Sector New England --
Cameron Russell Interupt Magazine --

Constituent Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Youth Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Advisory Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Board Demographics

Ethnicity African American/Black: 1
Asian American/Pacific Islander: 1
Caucasian: 3
Hispanic/Latino: 0
Native American/American Indian: 0
Other: 2
Other (if specified): --
Gender Female: 5
Male: 1
Not Specified 1

Board Information

Board Term Lengths --
Board Term Limits --
Board Meeting Attendance % --
Written Board Selection Criteria No
Written Conflict Of Interest Policy Under Development
Percentage of Monetary Contributions 40%
Percentage of In-Kind Contributions 80%
Constituency Includes Client Representation Yes

Standing Committees


CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments


Foundation Comments



Revenue vs. Expense ($000s)

Expense Breakdown 2015 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2014 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2013 (%)

Fiscal Year July 01, 2016 to June 30, 2017
Projected Income $349,082.00
Projected Expense $383,991.00
Form 990s

2015 TSNE Form 990

2014 TSNE Form 990

2013 TSNE Form 990

2012 TSNE Form 990

2011 TSNE Form 990

2010 TSNE Form 990

Audit Documents

2015 TSNE Audit

2014 TSNE Audit

2013 TSNE Audit

2012 TSNE Audit

2011 TSNE Audit

IRS Letter of Exemption

IRS Letter of Determination

Prior Three Years Total Revenue and Expense Totals

Fiscal Year 2015 2014 2013
Total Revenue $543,878 $197,948 $196,184
Total Expenses $422,065 $207,667 $191,820

Prior Three Years Revenue Sources

Fiscal Year 2015 2014 2013
Foundation and
Corporation Contributions
$140,870 $76,474 $190,525
Government Contributions $0 $10,000 $0
    Federal -- -- --
    State -- $10,000 --
    Local -- -- --
    Unspecified -- -- --
Individual Contributions $5,000 $36,350 --
Indirect Public Support -- -- --
Earned Revenue $366,095 $71,300 $5,000
Investment Income, Net of Losses -- -- --
Membership Dues $2,423 -- --
Special Events -- -- --
Revenue In-Kind -- -- --
Other $29,490 $3,824 $659

Prior Three Years Expense Allocations

Fiscal Year 2015 2014 2013
Program Expense $383,627 $187,248 $174,173
Administration Expense $38,438 $18,970 $17,484
Fundraising Expense -- $1,449 $163
Payments to Affiliates -- -- --
Total Revenue/Total Expenses 1.29 0.95 1.02
Program Expense/Total Expenses 91% 90% 91%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue 0% 1% 0%

Prior Three Years Assets and Liabilities

Fiscal Year 2015 2014 2013
Total Assets $251,226 $211,129 $109,541
Current Assets $251,226 $211,129 $109,541
Long-Term Liabilities $0 $0 $0
Current Liabilities $42,329 $124,045 $12,738
Total Net Assets $208,897 $87,084 $96,803

Prior Three Years Top Three Funding Sources

Fiscal Year 2015 2014 2013
1st (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --
2nd (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --
3rd (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --

Financial Planning

Endowment Value --
Spending Policy --
Percentage(If selected) --
Credit Line No
Reserve Fund No
How many months does reserve cover? --

Capital Campaign

Are you currently in a Capital Campaign? No
Capital Campaign Purpose --
Campaign Goal --
Capital Campaign Dates -
Capital Campaign Raised-to-Date Amount --
Capital Campaign Anticipated in Next 5 Years? --

Short Term Solvency

Fiscal Year 2015 2014 2013
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities 5.94 1.70 8.60

Long Term Solvency

Fiscal Year 2015 2014 2013
Long-term Liabilities/Total Assets 0% 0% 0%

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments


Foundation Comments

This organization is fiscally sponsored by Third Sector New England (TSNE). The Form 990s and audits posted above are per TSNE. The back of the TSNE audit document(s) contain financial data pertaining specifically to the Design Studio for Social Intervention (DS4SI). As such the financial data in the charts and graphs above is that of DS4SI, per the TSNE audit document with additional expense breakout detail and asset/liability detail provided by the nonprofit.


Other Documents

No Other Documents currently available.


The Impact tab is a section on the Giving Common added in October 2013; as such the majority of nonprofits have not yet had the chance to complete this voluntary section. The purpose of the Impact section is to ask five deceptively simple questions that require reflection and promote communication about what really matters – results. The goal is to encourage strategic thinking about how a nonprofit will achieve its goals. The following Impact questions are being completed by nonprofits slowly, thoughtfully and at the right time for their respective organizations to ensure the most accurate information possible.

1. What is your organization aiming to accomplish?


The Design Studio for Social Intervention (DS4SI) is a creativity lab for social justice work. It is a space where activists, artists and academics come together to imagine new approaches to social change and new angles to address complex social issues. For us, social interventions are actions taken to reconfigure social habits, unspoken agreements or arrangements that, prior to the intervention, add to the durability and normalcy of a social problem. We believe artists are critical to this work because art works with symbols, and because artists understand how people, communities and cultures use symbols to make collective meaning. Understanding this aspect of social life makes it possible to work within it as a point of leverage for social change.

The Demographics of our Constituency

We primarily work with base building community organizing groups within the social justice sector, including youth organizing groups. We also work to bring artists, designers and academics into thinking with social justice organizations. We work both locally and nationally, and the demographics of the groups we work with include a wide diversity of racial and ethnic backgrounds, (here in Boston that includes African-Americans, Cape Verdeans, Asian Americans, Brazilians, Euro-Americans, Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, Native Americans and more). The groups and individuals we work are also quite diverse in regards to age, religious affiliation, gender identity, economic class, and sexual orientation.

Goals and Objectives Long and Short Term

Our goals include supporting the social justice sector and people doing social change work through the following three strategies: 1) encouraging creativity and imagination, 2) showing the benefits of having creative research and development as a critical asset for social justice work, and 3) building the sector’s capacity to design and deploy social interventions.

1. Increasing creativity and imagination

The social justice sector, like many other sectors, is in a crisis of imagination. To address the crisis we will support the sector to play, think creatively and take risks.

Long-term goals:

· To normalize having artists and designers as thinking partners within the social justice sector

· To have imaginative and experimental design spaces as a critical aspect of local, regional and national conferences and gatherings within the social justice sector

· To have more people engage in social justice work due to its high level of energy and creativity, and to have current social justice practitioners stay in the field longer due to greater satisfaction and success

Short-term objectives:

· To increase DS4SI’s visibility inside the arts and civil engagement field

· To build more relationships with artists interested in partnering with us and working with community organizing groups

· To develop events, workshops, and materials that give social justice organizations spaces to imagine without any immediate pressure to implement ideas

· To support community organizing groups in imagining creative actions

· To model creative actions for the social justice sector

2. Showing benefits of creative research and development

The market sector has a robust set of design and creative research entities that it leans on for new ideas. We believe that the social justice sector deserves design and creative research as well, but from a social justice ethic instead of a market perspective.

Long-term goals:

· To host a robust online web presence for activists sharing and improving their creative R&D projects

· To see an increase in the acceptance of creative strategies across academic settings, particularly programs focused on nonprofit management, public policy, environmental and urban planning

· To lift up design methods as distinct and equally important as strategic planning methods within the social justice sector

Short-term objectives:

· To expand, model and document DS4SI’s creative R&D tools and methods

· To increase the visibility of creative R&D through spectacle

· To write about creative R&D and its benefits to the sector

· To increase the number of organizations that request creative R&D

3. Designing and deploying social interventions

Social interventions are actions, some quick and some over a period of time, that shift wicked social problems. They are a less explored way to address problems that we intend to lift up and make more available as part of the repertoire for change in the social justice sector.

Long-term goals:

· To host a robust online web presence for activists sharing and improving their social interventions

· To see creative strategies embraced as part of the general training for becoming a community organizer or activist

· To have effective social interventions also function as visible, accessible wins for communities such that they inspire more interventions

Short-term objectives:

· To increase awareness of social interventions as a viable approach to creating social change within the social justice sector

· To document the kinds of changes and effects social interventions produce across fields of practice as a contribution to the social justice sector’s overall set of tools and tactics

· To build our documentation and evaluation capacity inside of DS4SI

· To design a series of social interventions with youth organizing organizations

Desired Outcomes

· Numerous community organizing groups use DS4SI to design, test and deploy effective social interventions, as well as see us as a place to build their understanding of the role of design and creative strategies in their community based social change work

· Increase in collaborations between artists, activists and academics yield more creative and effective social interventions and highlight cultural, symbolic and systems-based approaches to creating social change

· Thousands of activists build on each others’ ideas and approaches to complex social issues through DS4SI’s nimble and interactive presence online

· DS4SI produces and distributes knowledge and documentation that increases awareness in the social justice field of such topics as: affective contagion, cultural geography, the cultural commons, public space and more

2. What are your strategies for making this happen?

We have an over-arching strategy to bridge the worlds of art, design, systems-thinking and activism, and to build a case for a broader use of creative strategies by the social justice sector. Within this, we are committed to supporting communities and artists of color and working towards bringing them the tools they need to create the changes they want to see in their communities. 

Some of our specific strategies include:
  • Using creativity labs to support communities, activists and artists in 
    thinking more expansively about the kinds of social problems they are trying to solve. Our aim is that our participants find unexpected and new points of convergence, develop insights about their problem they may not have considered otherwise and find new levers for creating the kinds of change they seek. Our creativity labs can be community based (and even street-based) or conference based for larger field-building gatherings.
  • Hosting events at the Design Studio that bring together a diverse range of artists, activists and academics, including our highly successful annual Black History Month series, as well as speakers, workshops and labs.
  • Writing for our website and other art and social justice partners to demonstrate how our design approach can reframe pressing social problems that are getting national attention, like childhood obesity, immigration, education, etc. 
  • Creating our own social interventions, like Dance Court, Public Kitchen, etc, to strategically put creative R & D projects and social interventions out into the public sphere to bring more interest and attention to them as approaches to solving complex social problems

3. What are your organization’s capabilities for doing this?

The Design Studio for Social Intervention is here at the right time: a moment when the nonprofit sector can and must innovate to be relevant and effective. We believe we are in the right position to do this work: situated at the crossroads of design, art, social theory, new media, contemplative practice and activism. Our resources include a small staff with over 50 years of experience working locally and nationally towards social change at the grassroots and capacity-building levels, extensive relationships and trust built within local communities and organizations doing social justice work, and a growing consortium of allies and thought-partners at nationally-recognized artistic and academic institutions such as MIT's Civic Media Lab, Massachusetts College of Art, Creative Time, and more.

4. How will your organization know if you are making progress?

Measurable outcomes: (Goals followed by actual results for 2012-2013.)

  • Over 1000 community members are witnessing/ coming to/ engaging in public social interventions: Even with our limited capacity to follow up with all the organizations that designed social interventions with us, we know that well over 3000 community members have engaged in social interventions either put on by the Studio or by organizations that worked on them through our Action Labs, M/B/T/A Lab, Public Kitchen, Making Planning Processes Public and StreetLab: Upham's.
  • Over 75 artists, activists and other community members are coming to Design Studio events about design methodology and interventions: Well over 300 artists, activists and community members attended Design Studio events that looked at arts activism, design methodology and culturally-based social interventions, including our annual Black History Month Series and guest speakers like Daniel Anthony and L. Anuenue Punua of Mana Ai, who shared how they are using the traditional Hawaiian method of pounding poi as a social intervention.
  • Design Studio has over 2000 hits/month on their website and over 1000 followers on Twitter: We have not reached our online goals, but we continue to grow our presence through our blog, facebook and twitter.
  • 5-7 community organizations and/or residents try their hand at designing their own social interventions: Over 40 community organizations and residents have tried their hand at designing social interventions inspired by our Action Labs, M/B/T/A Lab and Upham's Corner-based social interventions.
  • 3-5 social change intermediaries or large scale grass roots organizing groups try new ways to formally engage artists in their social change work: So far we can count Community Labor United, Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative, The Praxis Project and Project South as either intermediaries or large scale social change groups who are trying new ways to formally engage artists in their social change work.
  • 1-3 community organizations take on an intervention directly inspired by one of the Design Studio’s art commissions: Both the Boston-area Youth Organizing Project (BYOP) and the Roxbury Environmental Empowerment Project (REEP) are taking on interventions directly inspired by their experiencing our youth-led interventions taking on social violence. In addition, our Upham's Corner ArtPlace partnerships have inspired The Food Project, DSNI and Upham's Corner Main Street to take creative new approaches to their work. 

5. What have and haven’t you accomplished so far?

Over the past couple of years we’ve had tremendous success in creating spaces that help organizations and communities imagine new possibilities and new solutions. Beginning with amazing feedback about our Action Labs and continuing through the high level of engagement and enthusiasm around our Upham's Corner interventions (2 Public Kitchens, Making Planning Processes Public and STREETLAB: Upham's), we felt strongly informed to continue to explore possibilities for creating more such spaces. Some of the things we learned from our community-based and field-based work are:

  • Art, the symbolic and non-linear thinking: Activists are trained in a very linear thinking model. Creating spaces that force them into nonlinear processes can be critical to helping them come up with new approaches. For example, in Action Lab we had a linear element of designing effective cultural tactics, but we also worked with two artists, Judith Leemann and Ayako Maruyama, to design a set of nonlinear activities involving such things as repurposing tabloid stories, complex diagrams and action figures. It created a triangulation that helped activists explore the dynamics and symbols that held meaning and could be deployed as part of an effective social intervention. The mixture of linear and nonlinear activies moved groups forward in ways they hadn’t imagined.
  • Using productive fictions and other ways of stepping into new solutions: Many activists believe that the “solution” to problems lies in simply giving the community voice. But all of us have been so drenched in particular solutions that just asking for new ones does not get us past old ones. When asked what they would want for Upham’s Corner, most residents wanted familiar things—jobs, after-school programs, cleaner streets. But when invited into a “Public Kitchen,” an unfamiliar infrastructure, they immediately jumped into imagining what they would do with such a resource—teaching cooking, sharing recipes, and strategizing about reshaping food policy to allow more public ways to share food and food costs.
  • Using art to engage: Too often activists see the role of artists as limited to designing murals, leading folks in song or maybe street theater. We continue to explore a deeper role for artists—how do they see things and how can they help us imagine new possibilities. In Making Planning Processes Public, we commissioned two very different artists. Cedric Douglas imagined all sorts of new ways to engage the public—from creating a complete mock-up Metro paper about the planning processes and handing it out in full Metro costume to engaging folks as planners with shopping lists in baskets at the local market. During the week of MPPP he spoke or collected ideas from over 400 local residents and shoppers. Philippe Lejeune brought a very different approach, and we used his magical wood and mirror structures in the exhibit to spark the fundamental question, “do you see yourself in Upham’s Corner?” His understanding that play and confusion are key parts of really seeing a situation and solving a problem added a key element to our conversations with over 250 residents in the exhibit.

In terms of what we haven't accomplished, we are still striving to reach a more critical mass. Our goal is for these creative approaches to change to feel more accessible and at-play as residents, activists, artists, merchants, academics and the progressive nonprofit sector take on complex problems in our day to day lives.