Evanston Cradle to Career

Service Design

Team of 4, Design Lead


the thing

In June 2015, three Design for America (DfA) teammates and I connected with Cradle to Career, a collective that works with local service organizations to address the needs of Evanston families.

Cradle to Career engaged us in a crucial issue: the lack of understanding and trust surrounding the process of seeking services (such as healthcare, childcare, food, and housing) in Evanston. We asked ourselves,

How might we...help Evanston families find and get the services they need in a way that is easy, and empowering?

As we moved into ideation, our team considered the possibility of a suite of solutions - the "E-Model" - stepping away from generalizations about an individual’s experience and catching users at every point of the process. Working as a timeline, the E-model defines the user’s interactions throughout the process of service discovery, application, and access:

ENTICE (Humans of Evanston) --> ENTER (Resource Board) --> ENGAGE (Pathfinder) --> EXTEND (C2C Texts) --> EDUCATE (All Solutions)

Pathfinder, and its surrounding solutions, work to comprehensively bridge the gap between service providers and service seekers.

humans of evanston

Humans of Evanston is a poster marketing campaign featuring Evanston school social workers that highlights how they can help families and how to contact them. Humans will be distributed via post to every family home throughout Evanston.

resource board

Flyers have tear-off ‘business’ cards on the bottom so a user might take information with them. These will be be posted at local community hubs (churches, schools, centers, and transportation stops).

evanston pathfinder

Evanston Pathfinder is a mobile application databasing all organizations and service providers in Evanston. A user can filter through the database by type of resource (ie. child-care, medical care, housing.) The information for each organization provided is specifically chosen to help educate a user on what they will receive, and then helps to establish a connection with a service representative if they are interested. Users can operate it from the comfort and convenience of their own homes, or they can get help navigating the program from a social worker.

c2c texts

C2C Texts is a text subscription service that reminds families of upcoming events and deadlines throughout the Evanston community. Parents sign up to receive update texts from organizations they are a part of or organizations they are interested in.


We developed an asset map to recognize all of the stakeholders involved in family wellbeing. To contextualize this information, we looked at the broader demographics of the community. This pointed us in the direction of Evanston’s 5th Ward, which lies home to both a myriad of service organizations, as well as a large fraction of the low-income population of the city.

"For some reason there's a societal belief that people should have to work hard to access free resources."

- Evanston District 65 Schoolworker

design principles

5 design principles guided us through ideation, prototyping, and user testing:

  1. Promotes self-sufficiency.

  2. Is navigated easily.

  3. Instills confidence.

  4. Leverages word of mouth.

  5. Feels worthwhile.

next steps

Our team envisions future iterations of our suite of solutions to adapt further to the community it serves - and if applicable, be implemented elsewhere. Meanwhile, we continue to be a resource for Cradle to Career when needed in design implementation.