Rice Design for America
Design Innovation for Social Good
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Team CPR (College Preparedness and Resilience)


Meet the Team

Mayu: When she is not in class or open studio, you can find her watching Studio Ghibli movies or listening to Mura Masa.

JeongSu: He finds joy in eating spicy and Japanese food, fixed gear bikes, and collecting fountain pens.

Claire: She enjoys shopping for hipster/bougie stationary and scouring the internet for inspirational quotes to add to her journal.

Erik: In his free time, he can be found playing basketball (#ballislife), hiking, and cooking.

Kate: She practices yoga and is also always thinking of new acronyms for our prototypes (i.e. Da Academics and Beyond -> DAB).

Maheen: She is in the process of patenting her solution to dental needlestick injuries, and she is investigating what happened to her unicycle.

 First Team Meeting!

First Team Meeting!


Pink, purple, green, yellow - a mosaic of sticky squares fills our table. Each square representative of an invisible thought once isolated in a mind, now interacting with other squares to create visible patterns and clusters. This is the beginning of something special.

It’s been less than a week since joining the CPR team and the excitement electrifies the air. Each member brings a different past with the American education system, and we all agree that the college application process isn’t a level playing field. Within our team, some of us couldn’t turn to parents for help, while others had to push their counselors for a vital recommendation letter. But all of us, one way or another, still ended up at Rice. We don’t have the insight of someone who wanted to attend college but wasn’t able to. Not yet, at least. As the mosaic is disassembled, we agree to conduct user interviews and collect more peer-reviewed research and share our findings at our next meeting.

Key insights and Assumptions:

  • Mental health resources may not be readily available in high school
  • Mentorship and guidance would increase motivation to prepare for college
  • Potential gender differences in college preparedness (e.g. some research has found that males score higher in math and verbal portions of standardized tests than females)
  • Stereotype threat may influence school performance
  • Narrowed down our scope to mentorship and mental health for high school students that want to attend college


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This past week, our team jumped off the diving board and into the water. Our scope has narrowed to “The effects of low socioeconomic status/background that yield disadvantages in college preparedness and resilience”. We began identifying organizations that might have insight on the high school experience (Questbridge, Teach for America, etc.) and scheduling interviews that will hopefully elucidate the relationships between student, home, and school. A key insight came when we learned of a recent push by Houston ISD towards fostering a school environment that emphasizes restorative justice, which further narrowed our scope to mentorship and mental health.


  • Kathy from Breakthrough says: 
    • BT Students have a hard time finding a good fit college
    • BT Alumni don’t remain in contact after they graduate high school
  • Chris from KIPP Middle School says:
    • Many students don’t have an example of someone that went to college to follow
  • Renee from DREAM Mentorship says:
    • Connections are easier to make between mentor-mentee of similar backgrounds

Insights from Surveys

  • Rice students from Disadvantaged Backgrounds
    • "I wish that I had a financial advisor who could really have sat down with me and helped me understand how to pay for college, about student loans, about scholarships, etc. I feel that in the regard, first-gen students have a disadvantage, because no one in our families know how to help us with it."
    • "Academics [in college] are completely harder than my high school and the constant socializing gets tiring."
  • 9th  - 10th grade Breakthrough Students
    • In terms of the college application process, most people were least prepared for college interviews and applying for financial aid.
  • 11th - 12th grade Breakthrough Students
    • 46.4% are first-generation college students.





4-5 Possible HCW's:

  • How can we engage and retain the Breakthrough alumni to stay in the network?
  • How can we maintain long-term mentorship relationships between Alumni and current students of Breakthrough?
  • How can we make a system that is easy to implement and maintain for administrators of Breakthrough?
  • How can we train mentors to be effective? 

Final HCW

How can we effectively connect Breakthrough alumni and current students to ensure that the students receive resources and guidance to prepare for college?




Top 4 Ideas

  • Surveys for Creating Mentorship Pairs
    • Successful mentorships lead to successful futures for the current students and a sense of meaning for the alumni
  • Newsletter
    • Keeps the alumni connected to Breakthrough
    • Will drive engagement and motivate the alumni to become mentors to stay connected
  •  Goal Tracker
    • Incentives mentors and mentees
    • Helps the mentor understand what he/she should provide advice on
  • Lookbook or Blog to Connect Alumni and Students
    • Allows the students to look at which colleges the alumni are attending
    • Students can reach out to alumni at schools they are interested in
    • Alumni can make blog posts on their college life



Metrics to keep in mind:

  • Ease of Use: How many clarifying questions will the students ask? (5 second intuition test) 
  • Engaging: On a scale of 1 to 10, how engaging is it?
  • Interactive: How likely are you to reach out to a mentor?
  • Scalable: Create a guide for how to set it up - How easy is it to follow?
  • Refined: For someone that has never set up the product, it takes X amount of time to do it (alternatively - can do it without help outside of guide)
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We love Kathy


Testing Insights:

  • 100% said they would reach out to the mentor from the Lookbook
  • 87% would want to become a mentor in the future
  • 60% felt like they developed a personal connection by reading the profiles

“A lot of us, after the application process, don’t know what to do. There are a lot of things you could do, but we were not told and would like mentorship on that.” - Naomi



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Sodexo Expo in Gaithersburg, Maryland (December 13 - 14, 2017)