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Generating Great Ideas for RI

Generating Great Ideas for RI

Art educator Adrienne Gagnon MA 08 has been awarded one of two 2013 Rhode Island Innovation Fellowships for her Innovation by Design project. While at RISD she studied in the department of Teaching + Learning in Art + Design, earning an MA in Art + Design Education with a focus on community-based arts education.

Made possible by philanthropists Letitia and John Carter and awarded by the Rhode Island Foundation, the Innovation Fellowship provides funds for local visionaries to develop, test and implement ideas that have the potential of dramatically improving life in Rhode Island.

Gagnon’s ideas for improving local education started brewing while she worked as Education Director at CityArts in Providence, and really got off the ground in 2009 when she and RISD Architecture Critic Manuel Cordero co-founded the nonprofit DownCity Design. The organization brings together volunteer architects, artists and designers – many of whom are RISD faculty or alumni – to help Rhode Island residents design and build innovative solutions to neighborhood problems.

Her Innovation by Design project will help foster the next generation of Rhode Island innovators by bringing the transformative tools of design thinking to students across the state. The fellowship will enable Gagnon to create mobile design labs using old shipping containers and transport them to parks, schoolyards and vacant lots, where students can take part in free, community-centered design projects.

The project will also offer an interactive online design curriculum available to all Rhode Island school districts, along with a summer institute for teachers on how to incorporate design thinking into classrooms.

“I believe that by offering Rhode Island youth the tools of design thinking, we can create a generation of entrepreneurs, creators and engaged citizens who see challenges as opportunities and who work together to solve them,” says Gagnon. “This fellowship will fund not just one great idea, but an entire generation of Rhode Island residents full of great ideas.”

Simone Solondz