​Who can participate?

Students of all ages are welcome to attend a Design Challenge and learn the basics of design thinking as well as network with partners and volunteers. Students ages 15-19 are welcome to apply for the Accelerator program, Internships, and Fellowships.


The world’s biggest social problems are complex and urgent. No company or organization can solve issues like violence, economic inequality or poverty alone. We need leaders with different perspectives, skills, and experiences to come together to create fresh insights, ideas, and action to make progress.


Social Impact Labs are becoming an effective way to bring together expertise from academia, government agencies, school districts, police departments, community-based advocacy organizations, and the private sector to help our students:

  • Deepen their understanding of concrete, real-world problems;

  • Generate hypotheses about key causes of the problems;

  • Design and test potential solutions;

  • Capture and share insights about what works and what doesn’t; and

  • Identify opportunities to adapt and expand promising approaches.

What you will do:

  • learn the skills and attributes you need to engage in ethical and effective social change making and entrepreneurship

  • classroom-based learning and hands-on community engagement in today’s most urgent social challenges

  • how to research and create ethical solutions to real world problems

Professionals & Partner Organizations

Project partners may include private sector companies, social enterprises, emerging social entrepreneurs, collaborative associations, local organizations or governmental bodies, or traditional non-profits. 5A partners with professionals as team members and mentors who are interested in social impact design or interested in applying their professional skills to help our students solve some really big problems.


​Not only does this provide networking opportunities for our professional members, but it also gives them a chance to meet and work with young people who will become the future leaders of Pittsburgh. Our corporate partners have opportunities to host student interns and to potentially invest in student start-ups and accelerate promising approaches to intractable social issues. 5A is also piloting a new Design Fellowship which is an experiential training program that offers outstanding students with social impact ideas, learning opportunities and professional work experience with the goal of generating new research insights and amplifying the capacity of Pittsburgh nonprofit organizations.


What you will do:

  • learn through hands-on community engagement about today’s most urgent social challenges

  • use your professional skills to help create ethical solutions in collaboration with established and emerging community leaders

  • host interns or fellows at your organization

  • mentor young people, foster innovation and creativity, and support their development