Carnegie Mellon University
Dianachu_Masters_Design_2021.pdf (10.83 MB)
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Our Ideas Belong Here: Co-Designing a Community Investment Fund

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posted on 2021-06-24, 18:50 authored by Diana Chun

Participatory capital is a process where community members participate in the decision-making for resource allocation according to their shared values and needs. A proper participatory capital process enables resources to be distributed to serve the community rather than being wasted in misaligned projects or, worse, reinforcing unjust systems. With growing income inequality in the US, the participatory capital process is becoming a future vision to increase civic engagement among underserved communities. However, designing and implementing a participatory capital is a complex process where not much documentation exists.

This thesis aims to provide a case study for launching a participatory capital project with an underserved community. I hypothesize that designers must co-design with the community to adopt a participatory system into their community. To test this hypothesis, I have partnered with local community organizations to pilot a participatory capital pilot project. By co-designing a participatory capital pilot study with a low-income community in Sto-Rox, the thesis will gain insight into how we design an inclusive participatory capital process using co-design methodology and community-based design principles. I hope to provide processes, approaches, and workshop activities on how to design a participatory process that captures the community’s shared values and vision that may be valuable to other future co-designers who seek to implement a participatory process to their community.




Degree Type

  • Master's Thesis


  • Design

Degree Name

  • Master of Design (MDes)


Kristin Hughes