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Learning Labs

Coaching Equity-Centered Design Thinking

Kicking Off the City of Sunnyvale’s Newest Innovation Team

Four participants laughing together while sitting around a table completing a worksheet.

At the start of June, we kicked off the newest Innovation Team offered by the City of Sunnyvale. This project builds on our Learning Lab program – an immersive learning experience that expands capacity while exploring citywide challenges – with a particular emphasis on making Equity, Access and Inclusion (EAI) approaches more practical and accessible to employees at all levels.


The Innovation Team

This first session brought us together in person to begin exploring individual working styles and the foundations of design thinking. Over the next few months, we will guide four teams (19 participants from across 9 departments) to conduct interviews and build a portfolio of ideas for how to address their challenge.

To anchor in employee-driven priorities, the teams will focus on different challenges related to ‘internal communications’ – a topic which came directly out of survey responses from Sunnyvale employees. This gives the Innovation Team the opportunity to be a part of ongoing change at the City. They’ll connect with people most impacted by a challenge while being coached on how to conduct research and translate insights into actionable next steps.


Brittany Henry stands in the middle of several small group tables, guiding the Innovation Team through their next activity.


Weaving in EAI reflections & considerations

“What I appreciate about working with CivicMakers is that they provided me with a structured framework and language that connects seamlessly to the equity work I am already doing. My focus remains in creating systemic change and equitable outcomes for groups that have been historically marginalized and harmed, and CivicMakers has validated my work and my ability to continue to address these inequities effectively.”

– Fernanda Perdomo-Arciniegas, MPA

Equity, Access, and Inclusion Manager; City of Sunnyvale

The core of this program is ‘Innovation for Equitable Outcomes.’ We know that design thinking is not inherently equitable – but requires intentional reflection, thoughtful research design, and inclusive engagement.

As teams move through each step of the process, we’ll take a pause to notice and reflect on the systems of power that create differences in access and belonging. Our aim is to share resources and prompts that can easily be practiced in any role, while also modeling these approaches as facilitators of this learning environment.

We’re excited for the opportunity to more clearly name these goals and continue to expand our curriculum and coaching.

Interested in bringing something similar to your team? Let us know – and we’d be glad to explore ways we can tailor this program to your context.