Clayton County, part of the metropolitan Atlanta region, had long been recognized by Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta (CFGA) as a region in need of assistance with redevelopment. As a nonprofit foundation focused on community improvement, CFGA could not independently fund any major initiatives so they sought to convene community leaders from the public and private sectors in Clayton County to identify opportunities that could be collaboratively funded.
We developed and conducted two design thinking workshops with CFGA and Clayton County leaders to generate ideas for initiatives to fund. In the first workshop, participants mapped strategic community assets, performed an external environmental scan related to conditions in the county, and identified opportunities for improvement. In the second, participants identified specific opportunities for collaborative partnerships built on community assets to address the gaps.
Within eight hours CFGA had seven ideas for collaborative initiatives that Clayton County leaders had clearly outlined, felt empowered to implement and were bought into as a group. Community leaders were deeply engaged with each other in developing the initiatives and aligned on priorities for taking action. Feedback collected after the workshops indicated that one of the most beneficial aspects of the design thinking process was the regional network for future collaboration built by working together on a tangible project that showcased individual talents.