I helped at Civic Design Lab’s SF Design Week event, “Designing for Local Government”. June 2018

I helped at Civic Design Lab’s SF Design Week event, “Designing for Local Government”. June 2018

The Civic Design Lab (CDL) is a civic innovation lab within Oakland City Hall.

CDL applies human centered design and systems thinking to public sector problems, starting with the question: “Who are we designing this policy or service for?”

My role: During my three-month fellowship with CDL, I contributed to 3 Financial Empowerment initiatives aimed to improve the lives of underserved Oakland residents. As a transplant living in Oakland, I was humbled by this experience and emboldened to contribute more to my community.


Oakland Promise: Brilliant Baby

Brilliant Baby is a program run by The Oakland Promise, a partner of CDL. The target population for Brilliant Baby is under-resourced families raising newborns. The goal is to help provide parents and guardians with a supportive community, reduce financial stressors and establish a 529 college savings account (CSA) for newborns in the program.

We teamed up with The Oakland Promise to gather feedback on the Financial Coaching pilot program. What I found innovative about Financial Coaching is that it pays families to improve their financial literacy. When the family opts into financial coaching, they have the opportunity to learn new skills and become empowered in their financial decisions. All while earning additional money invested in their child's college savings account, ultimately reducing their overall financial stress.

My role: At the feedback forum, I facilitated a Journey Map co-creation workshop with a Spanish-speaking group of mothers at different stages in the Financial Coaching program. My grandmother always forced me to practice Spanish because it would be "beneficial for my future," and in opportunities like this, I was grateful that I could connect with the parents in their primary language. I asked families about their emotions, thoughts, and behaviors, as well as what points of communication and other factors, contributed to their experiences pre, during, and post the financial coaching sessions. Together, we populated a journey map to co-create a holistic understanding of the process.

Findings: I synthesized the feedback I gathered with the Spanish-speaking group and data from 2 other groups and created a Journey Map. Families experienced the most obstacles in the pre-coaching phase because they were confused and doubtful about the program offerings, essentially, it seemed too good to be true. As parents grew curious, they became involved with the program and were increasingly engaged with the financial coaching offerings. Their biggest obstacles were around accessing their child's college savings account, revealing technological and linguistic communication barriers that Brilliant Baby needed to address.

The most compelling feedback I heard was one parent who described that having been paired with a male coach was difficult because it made her and her husband uncomfortable. This uncovered an interesting intersection of gender and culture that impeded the mother from participating in the program. We suggested allowing the participants to express preferences for their financial coach before they are matched and explicitly explaining how a participant may request a change in financial coach.


Re-Entry Services

The City of Oakland is assessing the landscape of re-entry services available for formerly incarcerated folks. I collaborated with our team to create charts and visuals of the current offerings and gaps in services. I helped gather insights from government and local non-profit stakeholders that informs the next steps of the project.


Parking Citations

The recent bill AB 503 is meant to help low-income Oaklanders pay off their parking citations through a repayment plan. I synthesized our foundational research on users’ experiences with parking citations and created interview protocol to gather further insights.