D*Serve| Designing with the Underserved

Exhibition: Network | May 19, 2012 by

D*serve empowers underserved, rural youth by providing them experience in design and leadership through a community service pairing with the elderly and critically poor. By engaging in a story-for-service exchange with these populations, youth can attain the knowledge and wisdom of their elders, aid in economic relief to impoverished residents, and learn creative ways to be civic leaders in town.

From a Trip, To a Mission

The idea of D*Serve was sparked in December 2010 as youth organizer and designer, De Andrea Nichols, visited to her childhood home of Cleveland, MS. Embarking upon a personal tour of the town— revisiting old homes in which her family lived, neighborhood parks in which she played, candy stores she loved, schools she attended— reminders of the stillness of small-town living pervaded the experience. Very little had changed since the days of her youth, and what emerged most were the reminders of the social and economic inadequacies that existed within the town.

With the support of elders and peers, Nichols Kickstarted D*Serve and returned to Bolivar County during the 2011 summer to prototype the D*Serve structure. Research and engagement revealed that they largest hardships exist within the underserved youth and elderly populations, providing great opportunity to work with leaders to develop creative, low-cost solutions for social impact.


D_Serve shall thrive in the belief that youth can be activated through creativity and a spirit of service to…

Think critically about community issues,
Grow academically,
Develop visual Voice in the advocacy of others, and
Contribute dynamically as young creative civic leaders.


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