Policy by
the people

for the people


The Work

The co-design process puts lived experts at the core of program design and gives the power back to those most impacted by the program.

It's an approach to design with the people instead of the for-the-people way of designing programs and services we’ve relied on in the past. Co-design has the potential to restore humanity to program design and help ensure that people determine policy, not the other way around.

Policy by Co-Design

The “co” in co-design refers to the collaboration between those who have traditionally been part of the program design process — such as state agencies, professional providers, and other stakeholders — and individuals who have too often been left out — those with lived experience.

Implement & Learn
Implement & Learn

Are we ‘biodegrading’ as conveners? What messages are we getting, and how do we learn from them?

Build the Connections
Build the Connections

Are we the right people for this work and who are we working with? Who can take part and what’s in it for others? Is it needed and what matters to them?

Immerse & Align
Immerse & Align

Should we be doing this? What do we already know and where are the gaps? Who should we partner with?


How do we build on what is already strong?

Test & Refine
Test & Refine

What appears promising in the context?


What is happening in the context? What is already strong? What are people longing for?

Collaboration at its core

Historically, decision-makers and those in power have created the policies and programs in the public sector, regardless of their own experiences and background. To put it plainly, we’ve had a broken system where people who have never been in foster care or juvenile detention or family rehabilitation services design the programs for those who are.

And we think that’s backwards. It’s the people in those programs and those impacted by their policies that should be the primary drivers of how the programs work. And that starts with them having a real seat at the program design table. That’s what co-design is all about.


The Co-Design Institute is a hub of resources, information, connection and community centered around advancing the co-design process.

Our mission is to preach the value of putting those with lived experience at the center of the program and policy design process, to provide access to the resources and training policymakers and program administrators needto implement the co-design model, and to connect those across the country who are invested in creating policy created by the people instead of for the people.


The People

The power of co-design comes from the power of people. Meet the people behind the Co-Design Institute.


Connect With Us

Want to learn more about co-design or interested in working with us to make a difference? Send us a message.