Company partners are labs for observation + apprenticeship

“The students had a unique opportunity to be at the table, lead the conversation and share their recommendations to enhance the ICA’s community engagement with the teenage market. I was blown away by their data discussion – they nailed it.”

Tess McKenzie, Research Coordinator, VCU Division of Community Engagement

With the guidance of Collegiate faculty and community volunteers, students embark on an exploration of Richmond and the systems that impact companies and organizations operating in our community. Through first-hand observation of a CSEI partner company, students discover systemic issues each encounter in the delivery of their organizational mission and vision.

Then, students identify a design thinking challenge and apprentice with, or live with, the problem they are curious about solving. As they spend time in their partner company’s space, students ultimately increase their awareness of the interconnectedness of our community and how complex problem solving is.

CSEI 2022 company partners are asked to dedicate approximately 13 hours over the month of July to student learning:

  • By March 1, 2022, commit to hosting a team of 4-5 students on-site at your company, Monday-Thursday, July 11-28 from 8:30 a.m. (or start of business) until 12:30 p.m.
  • Dedicate a company member to serve as a CSEI team mentor for 3 hours a week on-site at your company Monday-Thursday, July 11-28 from 8:30 a.m. (or start of business) until 12:30 p.m. (9 hours)
  • By May 1, complete a simple business brief outlining your organization’s mission, vision and other basic information about systems, services and processes. (30 minutes)
  • By July 1, schedule three to four 45 minute interviews for July 11, 12 or 13 between 8:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. with a diverse group of people impacted by the mission and vision of your organization. Students will interview these individuals on those dates to learn more about your organization. (1 hour to schedule, 30 minutes per interviewee)
  • Have a company representative attend final CSEI student presentations on Friday, July 29 from 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. (3 hours)

If you are interested in serving as a partner company lab, please contact Trina Clemans at

Lab Partner Companies + Design Challenges

Design a way to adapt ChildFund‘s Learning Seed product for classrooms to engage students and teach important 21st century skills ultimately helping close the gap between U.S. students and those in developing countries.

Design a method to enhance and expand ChildSavers’ outpatient services for their client base.

Design communication materials and delivery channel strategy for a college or university reaching out to a current junior high school student and their family for EAB.

Redesign the client screening process for Intake Agency Caseworkers for EnergyShare, Dominion Energy‘s year-round energy assistance program.

Design a paid summer internship program for college sophomores, juniors and senior students tailored to meet Impact Maker’s mission.

Design a new customer experience for the Richmond Squirrels that follows CDC guidelines and aligns with the Richmond Squirrel’s core business – the memory making business – even in the era of COVID-19.

Design a strategy to reach 18-20 year olds and share the experience of being a Richmond Kickers‘ fan to enhance engagement with the organization.

Design a new customer experience that continues to deliver on Midas of Richmond‘s promise – Cars don’t work without proper care. Neither do communities. That’s why we do both. Welcome home, Richmond – even in the era of COVID-19.

Design innovative ways to attract and engage Gen Y and Gen Z to live events at the Richmond Raceway Complex

Design a process that enables the Startup Virginia team to effectively and efficiently research and leverage the experienced volunteer mentors who assist Startup Virginia’s company founders and clients.

Create a process to capture and share information about SunTrust Bank‘s philanthropic efforts supporting the communities it serves through financial assistance and volunteerism.

Assess the greater Richmond area’s teen audience needs and interests for Virginia Commonwealth University’s Institute for Contemporary Art (ICA) to better understand how the ICA can collaborate with the Richmond community to best serve teen audiences.

Design strategies for the VMFA to further engage and connect LGBTQ+ and different abled communities to create a more accessible museum experience.

Create a messaging strategy for World Pediatric Project to expand brand awareness and engagement – both actively and digitally – among younger audiences.