Create the tools of social change

Who You Are

You are a champion of user-centered principles with a sharp visual sense. You know how to use a wide range of research methods to identify pain points – both the obvious and the nuanced – and can turn those learnings into an elegant and delightful user experience.

Your Skills

  • You’re an experienced UX, research, and/or visual designer – ideally you’ve been on teams that have built products from scratch, have experience with mobile, and enjoy fast turnaround environments
  • You’re comfortable conducting interviews and focus groups and have a basket of tricks that you use to pull insights from research conversations
  • You know how to build and use prototypes to deepen your understanding of user pain points, encourage collaborative design, and test specific features
  • You have a strong, clean visual design sense, but you don’t need to be pixel perfect the first time around
  • You can articulate user needs and communicate design strategy in compelling ways both on and off the screen
  • Preferred: You can implement designs in HTML and CSS
  • Mobile design experience a plus

The Task

You’ll participate in our empathy and immersion program, meeting and spending time with folks from our Design Insight Group. Using the insights from this research, you’ll join our cohort of fellows to quickly brainstorm, prototype, and evaluate ideas. Integral to the whole process is product validation – quickly and creatively collecting data and teasing out insights.

At the end of the Research Phase, you’ll team up with a few colleagues and settle on an idea. Over the next 80 days, you’ll rapidly develop a prototype to test with potential users, iterating against user feedback. As the designer on your team, you’re tasked with building a delightful, visually compelling digital product with seamless UX.

How To Apply?

Applications have been closed for the 2017 fellowship.

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Applications have been closed for the 2017 fellowship.

2017 Key Dates

  • Applications open: 1/27/17 at 9:00am EST
  • Open House: 2/16/16 at 6pm EST.
  • Weekly Info Sessions:Every Thursday in February at 1pm EST
  • Applications close: 3/6/17 at 11:59pm EST
  • Finalist workshops: 4/1/17 or 4/9/17
  • Fellows Accepted: 4/15/17
  • Fellowship Start: Early June
  • Research Phase Ends: End of July
  • Build Sprint Ends: Mid October

Support includes:

  • Co-working space in downtown Brooklyn
  • Access to a pool of 200+ community members who can shed light on problem areas and provide feedback and validation
  • Connections to front-line organizations
  • Access to a strong network of talented mentors, social innovation funders, and our alumni
  • Free and discounted access to a number of services and products to help you get things done
  • An honorarium to pay your rent and bills
  • The opportunity to work on important issues with some of the best in the business

More Questions

For more information on the Fellowship or the application process, please see our FAQ or attend one of our weekly webinars.

You can also watch a recorded webinar.

Additionally, we'll be hosting an Open House on February 16th.

Alumni Profile

Gaïa Orain, 2014 Design Fellow


  • The Labs is a genuine incubator for social impact R&D. You have the time to investigate complex issues of inequality and the resources to iterate and design a human-centered response. To do so within an exciting, community-driven environment was an amazing opportunity.
    Joel Stillman
  • The Labs is a great place for a designer to learn and grow. Unlike school and other places of employment, you get in touch with real users through focus groups and user testing. It's also a great place to participate in startup culture and dive into entrepreneurship.
    Wenting Zhang
  • I've been thrilled to work alongside smart, resourceful, and dedicated members of the New York City tech and social justice community this summer. I gained valuable experience developing civic technology and working with community based organizations.
    Shelly Ni
  • Too often, we create products and services that cater to our own needs. I'm really proud of the work my dynamic team developed. I am fortunate to have met so many fascinating humans and worked with people who actually care about changing the status quo.
    Gaïa Orain