East Oakland Innovators: Integrating Design Thinking and CBPR for Community-Driven Change

Publication Date


Document Type


Publication Title

American Public Health Association (APHA) Conference

Conference Location

Chicago, IL


Place-based work to address health inequities must be grounded in community assets and must result in tangible action. The Alameda County Public Health Department Best Babies Zone’s East Oakland Innovators (EOI) program combines community-based participatory research (CBPR) with human-centered design thinking (DT) to offer a unique, action-oriented approach for rapid resident-driven community development. In 2014, nine English- and Spanish-speaking East Oakland residents developed and implemented community improvement projects in the Castlemont neighborhood as part of the EOI program. Their approach was guided by experiential training in DT methods and community-driven program development. Questionnaires were used to assess short-term program impact. A retrospective assessment of the program’s DT and CBPR approaches examined the effectiveness in combining these two frameworks. The EOIs successfully implemented three projects: a campaign to publicize and promote local business, a women’s empowerment Sister Circle, and a parent self-care class series. The EOIs gave testimonials of personal growth as leaders through the program. Analysis of DT and CBPR applications revealed both tensions and harmony between the two frameworks, with concessions being made in regards to ongoing project implementation and evaluation due to lack of time and resources. The EOI program successfully supported a cohort of dynamic, local leaders in strengthening their skills and engaging in small-scale community development. The program demonstrated the potential power of combining the DT and CBPR frameworks. Further examination of the long-term impact of the program and the possible utility of the DT-CBPR integration are necessary contributions to ongoing efforts for resident-driven community development.


Community Development, Methodology


Public Health and Recreation