Designing for Financial Empowerment ( is a cross-sector project that envisions how New York City might challenge the cycle of poverty by holistically examining current public policy and service offerings; understanding the interrelated needs of the City’s most vulnerable populations; and enabling community members to participate in the co-design of the very services that they use, alongside policymakers, advocates and service providers.

Designing for Financial Empowerment is part of Public & Collaborative (, a multi-project initiative that investigates the role of design in building bridges between city government and its constituents to improve the provision of services for the public good. The initiative has also undertaken design research activities that cover affordable housing, public education, workforce development, and mapping exercises aimed at identifying spaces for public innovation.


Parsons DESIS Lab NYC

Parsons DESIS (Design for Social Innovation and Sustainability) Lab is a research and design laboratory created in 2009 at The New School in New York City ( DESIS Lab works at the intersection of design, management, and the social sciences, to develop transdisciplinary methods in problem solving to orient sustainable practice and social innovation in cities.

We are a group of design theorists and practitioners, management scholars, anthropologists and ethnographers, and graduate students who explore the relationship between design and social change. Our goal is to advance the practice and discourse of design-led social innovation to foster more equitable and sustainable cities and civic practices.

In a world facing critical and systemic challenges, the DESIS Lab rethinks assumptions about how communities, economies, and environments are conceived and operate, researching nuanced design approaches drawn from knowledge cultures of all kinds. In the DESIS Lab, design is considered a distributed approach, one that integrates many forms of know-how, action, and expertise.