Skip to content

BUILD’s COVID-19 Virtual Design Challenge

At BUILD University, students create entrepreneurial
solutions to the world’s toughest problems.


Training and Support

BUILD gives access to the curriculum after the free training

  • Free 2 hour training for teachers in how to lead Human-Centered Design for teens
  • Ability to connect with a broad and diverse network of educators across the nation
  • Access to live synchronous and asynchronous training sessions
  • Implementation guides to support you and your students in the challenge
  • Educator and student-tested material optimized for distance learning
  • 10 hours of content in Design Thinking that you can do in a week or spread out over the course of the semester
  • Ability to implement on your own timeline

Volunteer Coaches


  • Coach high school students as they develop entrepreneurial solutions to real-world problems
  • Practice team building skills with youth and other professionals
  • Develop empathy, identify creative solutions and exercise your own innovation
  • Gain professional development in Human-Centered design methodology and DEI (Diversity, equity, and inclusion)


  • Participate individually or with group of colleagues or friends
  • Innovate with students, teachers and BUILD staff who will provide guidance, feedback, and assistance as your student team dives into new skills



BUILD is providing an immersive online experience for students, complete with facilitators guide and trainings for school districts, nonprofits organizations, and teachers who are seeking engaging, culturally responsive, project based digital content that inspires entrepreneurial innovation with Black and Latinx youth. Founding 1999, BUILD mission is to use entrepreneurship to ignite the potential of youth from under-resourced communities and propel them to high school, college & career success.


The Challenge, which can be completed via a smartphone, aims to empower youth to build a more just and equitable world. Through experiences like BUILD’s COVID-19 Virtual Design Challenge, we invite the greater education community to participate with us in using entrepreneurship to unlock the potential of youth across the nation through experiential, social and emotional learning.


What is BUILD's COVID-19 Virtual Design Challenge?

This Virtual Design Challenge empowers students to take action as they work to develop innovative solutions to the question: How might we help people thrive mentally and physically in the midst of COVID-19? Students are guided through the entire Design Thinking process on our new digital platform. The Challenge is delivered by a trained educator. BUILD provides all training and materials for students and schools.

The content was created to empower youth nationwide and give them a sense of self-agency. They explore stories of diverse people living in our communities then work collaboratively in teams to propose innovative solutions.

The design thinking journey takes students through the following process:

  • Empathize – Walk in a client’s shoes and document the experience
  • Define – State your client’s needs and problems
  • Ideate – Dream up solutions to your client’s challenges
  • Prototype – Create a model of your solution
  • Test – Try your solution with others
  • Pitch – Present your idea for potential cash prizes and bragging rights

Join us weekly on Wednesdays at 4pm PST/ 7pm EST for an info session. See you on Zoom!

What is Design Thinking? What is Human-Centered Design?

Design Thinking is a philosophy that empowers an individual or team to design products, services, systems, and experiences that address the core needs of those who experience a problem.

Some of the world’s leading brands, such as Apple, Google, Samsung and GE, have rapidly adopted the Design Thinking approach, and Design Thinking is being taught at leading universities around the world, including, Stanford, Harvard and MIT.  Human-Centered Design is a framework for solving problems that makes individual lived experiences the centerpiece of the process.

How long is the Challenge?

BUILD’s COVID-19 Virtual Design Challenge can be delivered in as little as 10 hours or be used as a launch pad for additional lessons and curricula that can span an entire semester.

Educator training commitment is a minimum of 2 hours.

How do I register for the Challenge?

Educators, please register for training! Principals, Administrators or other leaders in schools and youth organizations, if you’d like to discuss a training specific to your district or organization, please email Lydia at All educators must participate in a training in order to get students started!

Is it true that BUILD's COVID-19 Virtual Design Challenge is really FREE?

BUILD’s COVID-19 Design Challenge is 100% FREE. For best results, we require educators to complete the training prior to delivering the program.

What technology is needed to deliver this Challenge?
  • You can use any video platform you like for the ChallengeZoom, GoToMeetings, etc.
  • Students will need a computer or mobile device that has internet access
  • This experience will use the following sites/platforms:, Google Docs, Padlet, YouTube, Vimeo, EditMate
Who can participate?

The Challenge is created for grades 8-12. The curriculum and guidebook is designed for educators to use in their virtual classrooms! We also invite parents, nonprofits, after-school programs and community leaders to join with their youth! We invite students from all districts, all states. Educators are required to facilitate and need to attend a training session before you can access the full material.

What will my students learn?
  • Design thinking to include Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype, Test and Pitch
  • 21st Century Skills (BUILD’s Spark Skills!):Problem-solving, Communication, Collaboration, Innovation, Grit, Self-management
  • An entrepreneurial mindset
  • Collaboration and communication as students go through the challenge in teams
  • Public speaking and how to make a pitch
  • Fun ways of using new tech tools
  • How to be confident in their ability to use digital tools for empathy building, problem solving, and collaboration
  • Real-world project based learning
Is BUILD planning on future Virtual Design Challenges?

Yes!! Sign up for our newsletter to find out about more virtual curriculum and product releases!

When can I start?

Today, tomorrow or whenever you are ready! The course is online and therefore you can start on a rolling basis. Teachers or facilitators are invited to complete a 2-hour training. This training is required so you understand the flow, best practices and how to ensure students feel safe, excited and ready to dive into the challenge.

What would I be doing as a volunteer coach?

You will be coaching a team of 5-7 Middle and High school students as they develop their creative solutions! Professionals from all walks of life are encouraged; design skills are a bonus.  Training sessions are provided and led by teachers and BUILD staff who will provide guidance, feedback, and assistance as you and your student team dive into new skills!

Start your Journey Today

Join to receive our free challenge curriculum, a link to our challenge platform and extra resources to begin your journey. Discover more at our weekly Wednesday info sessions!

Challenge Partners

Our curriculum is free and accessible to students and educators across the country thanks to the generosity of our challenge partners.