Full interview here: “Design Challenge, Challenging Times: An Interview and Conversation with Erin Sweeney and Schools That Can.”

The COVID-19 crisis has upended many annual events and programs; many have been canceled, a few have postponed until the next year. However, there are still many that are adapting to the times and moving their events to virtual venues. The process has not been easy, but the results can break new ground in how we approach the crisis. Schools That Can is an example of how organizations have changed how they approach their core events.

Schools That Can partners with schools to deliver engaging Education to Employment content that connects teachers and students to the world of work. Their programs provide schools with historically marginalized students with the capacity to prepare them for careers or college, and all of their programming builds direct connections between students and volunteers from a variety of professional fields. Every year for the past four years, Schools That Can has held its Design Challenge which brings together middle schoolers, teachers, corporate executives, and community leaders to engage in a real-world design experience, that is, transforming urban public school buildings into smart, green, and efficient structures. The project is a collaboration with the Panasonic Foundation and allows students to research the current functionalities of their school buildings and create a concept and design plan for a smart, green school using renewable energy.

This year, the Design Challenge has been moved online. The program’s Executive Director for Newark, Erin Sweeney, will explain how Schools That Can has met this change and what it means for the event.