In the Weeds

(FAQs and More)

Design Challenge FAQs

What is it?

Sprout: A Design Challenge is a four-day deep dive where teams, made up of three individuals, get hands-on with human-centered design to tackle a real-world challenge. Imagine it as human-centered design boot camp—lots of learning, lots of doing, and a coach to guide you every step of the way! Over four days, with a helpful coach by your side, teams will journey from start to finish, from idea to prototype.

When is it?

The event starts on Monday, May 20th and ends on Thursday, May 23rd. The tentative schedule is as follows:

  • Monday: 2PM – 6PM CT
  • Tuesday: 9AM – 5PM CT
  • Wednesday: 9AM – 5PM CT
  • Thursday: 9AM – 12PM CT

Where is it?

Pack your bags for Chicago! We’re hosting the event at the vibrant 1871 Innovation Hub space, the perfect backdrop for your human-centered design adventure.

How much does it cost?

Each person on a selected team gets a $2,500 stipend to support transportation, accommodation, and other costs associated with traveling and attending the event. Breakfast, lunch, and snacks will be provided each of the four days of Sprout: A Design Challenge. All expenses beyond this stipend will need to be covered by the selected teams.

Who should apply?

This opportunity is for human-centered design newbies—i.e., teams with little to no human-centered design experience. We’re looking for teams that work well together, have a go-with-the-flow attitude, and are ready to adapt to new challenges. Everyone’s welcome, but we strongly encourage individuals who identify as women, people of color, members of the LGBTQ+ community, people with disabilities and different abilities, and those from underrepresented groups nationwide to apply. We seek within-team diversity, encouraging trios that represent a range of backgrounds, experiences, and areas of expertise. 

What's the takeaway?

You will learn by engaging in hands-on activities with your team and getting personalized coaching. You will get better at using human-centered design to solve real problems. If you shine at Sprout: A Design Challenge, you may get some bonus points if you choose to apply as an Innovation Development Team to the In/Tend Incubator Hub down the line. Innovation Development Teams embark on a six-month journey, where teams use human-centered design to tackle a challenge within the field of adolescent sexual and reproductive health.

Requirements to Apply

Here’s what you need to know to join the fun:

  • Teams must be made up of three (3) people.
  • Team members do not have to come from the same organization but must have prior experience working together.
  • The team should bring a mix of talents, where each member brings something unique to the table.
  • The team should be passionate about improving adolescent sexual and reproductive health.
  • Team members should be adventurous and willing to work with ambiguity.
  • Team members must commit to attending all days of Sprout: A Design Challenge, starting on Monday, May 20 and ending Thursday, May 23.
  • All team members must be at least 18 years old.  
  • All team members are responsible for getting themselves to and from the Sprout: A Design Challenge venue.  
  • All team members should not have prior experience in human-centered design.  
  • Preference will also be given to teams that consist of the following: 
    • Individuals representing historically underserved populations 
    • Young people, ages 18 to 24 

Don’t check off every box in the requirements listed above? Please apply anyway! Studies have shown that historically underserved communitiessuch as women, people with disabilities and different abilities, LGBTQ+ and people of colorare less likely to apply for opportunities unless they meet every single qualification. We are dedicated to building an inclusive, diverse, equitable, and accessible space that fosters a sense of belongingso if you’re excited about this opportunity, we encourage you to still consider applying. Sprout: A Design Challenge might be the right opportunity for you! 

Application Timeline


April 1, 2024

We first share information about Sprout: A Design Challenge.


April 1 – April 13

Use this time to gather your teams and prepare your application! We intentionally provide this period to provide more equitable opportunities for all interested teams to prepare.


April 14 – April 21, 11:59PM ET

Application portal opens. Submit your application ASAP. The portal closes once we receive 42 submissions, or upon the deadline, whichever comes first.


April 14 to May 3

We review applications.


May 3

We send invitations to selected teams.


May 7

Selected teams must sign their contract and confirm participation.


May 20 – May 23

Sprout: A Design Challenge

Related dates: In/Tend Incubator Hub Application opens

May 28 to June 17

Teams that show great promise during Sprout: A Design Challenge will be encouraged to apply as an Innovation Development Team (IDT) with the In/Tend Incubator Hub and will be given special consideration during the IDT application process.


Selection process

Applications are carefully reviewed by an independent selection committee. This committee is made up of experts in innovation and adolescent sexual and reproductive health.

To provide all teams with a dedicated, equitable, and timely review by our selection committee, we must limit the number of submissions to 42. We understand that this is an uncommon application process, and in the spirit of innovation and transparency, we welcome any feedback (innovation@healthyteennetwork.org) on this process.


Selection criteria

The Selection Committee will be evaluating applications based on: 

  • Team Composition & Collaboration: Do they have strategies to promote inclusive and effective communication and collaboration within the team? Are their skills complementary?  
  • Excitement & Motivation: Is the team enthusiastic about the opportunity? We’re looking for teams with a genuine passion to learn something new and for making a difference. 
  • Experience & Adaptability: What prior experiences have prepared the team for this adventure? How adaptable are they in navigating new situations and learning opportunities? 
  • Alignment with Innovation Dynamics: Does the team showcase a creative and innovative approach in their application? Do they show promise for translating ideas into action? 
  • Preferred Selection Criteria: We also consider any preferred criteria, such as representation from historically underserved populations or young people ages 18 to 24. 

The Selection Committee will be looking for applications that creatively illustrate who the team is and how they effectively work with one another. We are also looking for teams who embody the potential for innovation and show the promise of putting it into action if they were given the opportunity to do so, such as through our Sprout: A Design Challenge, but just have not had a chance to do it yet.  

Selection timeline

The application portal will close and stop accepting further applications once we receive 42 submissions, or upon reaching April 21st at 11:59 PM ET, whichever comes first. We highly encourage and recommend any teams interested to apply as soon as possible. 

Applicants will be notified of their application status no later than May 3, 2024. Teams must confirm their participation no later than May 7, 2024. Teams who accept the invitation to join Sprout: A Design Challenge must then be able to arrive and participate in the event, starting May 20 and ending on May 23, in a timely manner. 

The Healthy Teen Network In/Tend Incubator Innovation Hub is supported by the Office of Population Affairs (OPA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $1,886,783 with 100 percent funded by OPA/OASH/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement by, OPA/OASH/HHS, or the U.S. Government. For more information, please visit opa.hhs.gov.

Discover the magic of the Network.