Bringing Together Design, Mentorship, and Social Innovation


The Digital Prototype Opportunity is an initiative between Blue Ridge Foundation, Thoughtworks, and the Parsons School of Design Strategies. The project included participation from over 100 nonprofit groups based in New York and surrounding areas, competing for two grants totaling approximately $300,000 in direct funding, business mentorship for six months, office space, and the creation of software systems proposed by their organizations. Workshops were designed to fine-tune, advance, and make ideas viable.



Knowledge Brokering

Tacit, community, and network knowledge between non-profit participants and Thoughtworks consultants converged and were strategically applied to enrich originally proposed ideas.




Design Strategies

Workshops created and implemented by the Parsons School of Design Strategies offered structured processes to guide concept ideation for competition proposals, user experience scenarios, stakeholder analysis, and prioritization of software features, among other requirements.




Innovation Capacity Building

Design strategies employed throughout the workshops presented new ways of exploring problems and opportunities that worked to expand the boundaries of each parties' expertise.




Open Innovation Consortium

The partnership between students of Parsons School of Design Strategies, consultants at Thoughtworks, and Blue Ridge venture capitalist partners formed a mix of multidisciplinary experience that when combined with the eclectic needs of non-profit applicants, formed synergies that resulted in the creation of concepts more valuable than the sum of their parts.




Project Framing

Competing non-profits came to the project with their own original proposals, which were framed by Parsons students and Thoughtworks consultants to extract insights and opportunities that were originally unexplored or overlooked.


Leadership Mentoring

As part of the competition, winners would be awarded six months of guidance by Blue Ridge partners as well as software building and consultation from Thoughtworks employees. As a result of the Parsons-led workshops, Thoughtworks employees were given access to new consulting methods that could be utilized for future projects.


The Blue Ridge Foundation

The Blue Ridge Foundation is an incubator geared towards non-profit organizations working in impoverished communities to foster social innovation.


Thoughtworks is a community of knowledge workers who bring together the goals of sustainable business, software excellence, and social and economic justice.

Parsons School of Design Strategies

Parsons School of Design Strategies provides an experimental environment in which business and design education converge within the context of urban settings, services, and infrastructure.


                                    Carlos Teixeira

                                   Carlos Teixeira

                                    Mike Varona                                       Amanda Greenough

                                   Mike Varona

                                   Amanda Greenough