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Design for America: A program to support extracurricular civic entrepreneurship activity

Poverty. Illiteracy. Pollution. These challenges will not solve themselves. We need civic entrepreneurs or people who actively seek, design, refine, and implement solutions to challenges, to improve and strengthen civil society. Yet higher education leaves little time to train these much-needed civic entrepreneurs. This paper addresses this challenge by presenting an overview of a model for extracurricular civic entrepreneurship activity and its implementation in an extracurricular network at eighteen universities. We present the Design for America program model, instructional tools, and assessment of the program over the past five years. We find that through self-directed, hands-on learning, students develop the skills and confidence critical for innovation. Based on these findings, we provide three emergent design principles to inform the design and scaling of effective extracurricular civic entrepreneurship activity and support tools.