The 3-week intensive Program on Design, Partnering, Management and Innovation (DPMI) equips activists, students, and young professionals with social change tools, skills-based learning, and theoretical knowledge to spark change both domestically and internationally.
Founded in 2003, the DPMI certificate program has more than 2,200 alumni, who consistently report that they use what they have learned in DPMI to enter or advance a social justice career. Today, DPMI aims to help participants respond to the question “What do social justice activists need to know to successfully promote high-impact, sustainable initiatives that address local priorities?” To do that, the program draws on the experience of practitioners working to address the systemic causes of poverty, injustice, and vulnerability and places a heavy emphasis on social change tools and an exploration of identity and power. Participants gain hands-on experience with human-centered design, social entrepreneurship, transparency, accountability, and collaboration while engaging with real organizations, communities, and applications. Learn more about Beryl Levinger, DPMI’s program director, here.
- Engage in team-based problem-solving, client interaction, peer-to-peer feedback, and coaching from DPMI faculty
- Conduct formal and informal community interviews to gain a multi-stakeholder perspective
- Co-create theories of change with local actors
- Use Agile Principles, tools, and frameworks to identify potential areas for innovation and improvement
- Apply human-centered design principles to generate new ideas that are tightly linked to user needs and preferences
- Practice timeboxing and the use of solid metrics to rigorously test innovations
- Generate creative, compelling responses to funding opportunities
In 2021, DPMI moved from its founding institution, the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, to Root Change. The first Root Change DPMI cohort worked closely with representatives from the Sitka Tribe of Alaska (STA) to address challenges faced by tribal citizens including high unemployment, food insecurity, as well as the consequences of systemic racism and discrimination. Together, participants and STA program managers identified potential enhancements to existing programs using a “lean experiment” approach. They also collaborated on strategies to foster empowerment through the transmission of local cultural values and traditions. In the program’s final week, participants crafted funding proposals to help tribal citizens achieve food sovereignty. To complete this project, participants conducted extensive interviews with tribal representatives, received ongoing feedback on their work from multiple stakeholders, and used a wide array of analytic tools to generate rich insights into the local context.