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Thought: Building Inclusive Communities

How Inneract Project is Building Inclusion In & Outside the Classroom

by Anuradha Murthy, Advocacy & Engagement

For 15 years, Inneract Project has been serving the community with free youth design education programming. As you can imagine, our programs have evolved over the years. What was once a graphic design class is now a series of courses that aim to create a pathway into a range of design careers.

With every touch point we create for our students and families, we want to reinforce that they too belong in Design and Technology. This requires intention and representation. Our instructors, much like the students, are POC professionals working in the field of design. The challenges that we tackle in each course are specific to the lived experiences of our students and of ourselves.

Students from our YDA1 Oakland class

Creating Inclusive Spaces within Inneract Project

Outside of strictly the students, the volunteers we bring together and the intention we share is unique at IP. For many volunteers, the work we do is so important and compelling because we have spent our careers searching for spaces to thrive ourselves. Over the years, the number of volunteer committee members has increased and we’ve created a space for critical dialogue, community engagement, and career support. In a survey last year, we learned that many of our volunteers are looking for community and space to hold with other POC designers. With this in mind, we’ve increased our internal communication as well as monthly gatherings.

With the same intention we hold for our classroom spaces, we strive to create a collaborative space that is inclusive for everyone. When we gather, we support local establishments that are Black or Latinx owned. We make sure the spaces we meet are accessible to our volunteers who are spread across the bay. The community that we’ve created at Inneract Project feels like a family, both for our volunteers and the families we serve. We’ve created a supportive community that shows up for each other. This is essential to our success as we get into our 15th year and beyond.

Our volunteer committee members and staff at our 15 year Celebration

Activating the Bay Area Design Community

This year, one of our goals was to activate and involve the larger design community here in the Bay Area. A recent article on UX design trends states: “In 2020, the most relevant discussions in design are becoming local, authentic, and focused.” We couldn’t agree more.

Design Hour SF Panelists Roxy Aliaga, May-li Khoe, Mike Nicholls

This year, we created Design Hour, a new IP intimate event series between designers and change makers to genuinely connect and discuss intersections of design with diversity, inclusion, education, arts and culture. Launched in LA, Oakland, & SF, we aimed to apply the same principles of inclusion to our broader community efforts and are just getting started. As we look to 2020, we ask ourselves, how might we further open up our family to other POC designers who care about Design, Technology, Education, and Representation. We hope you’ll join us as we continue to build this movement and create space for all of us to belong.

Inneract Project is celebrating its 15th year anniversary. As part of the festivities, we invite you into a glimpse of what our world looks like. We hope you’ll find inspiration and join us by investing in our organization and community.