Designers for Learning is a Nonprofit Organization

Designers for Learning is organized as a not-for-profit corporation in the State of Illinois, and operates exclusively for charitable purposes in accordance with section 501(c)(3) of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code. Designers for Learning promotes service-learning opportunities through collaboration with schools, students, and volunteers.

Our Function

We help nonprofits and other social enterprises achieve their missions by targeting performance gaps impacting the organization. Matched with nonprofits in service-learning projects, instructional design students develop solutions that are customized to the the organization’s learning and performance improvement needs.

Through the process of working with the nonprofit to recruit volunteer students to work on the pro bono service-learning projects, we act as:

  • matchmaker between the nonprofit and service-learner volunteers,
  • A facilitator of service-learning projects,
  • resource for college faculty seeking service-learning projects, and
  • An advisor to the nonprofit.

Our Matching Process

Our matching process begins with a needs and goal consultation with the nonprofit client. When the nonprofit client has an established need for instructional design help, a Call for Volunteers describing the nature of the project and requesting volunteer help is posted on our website. In addition, a copy of the call will be emailed to everyone who has expressed interest in either volunteering or mentoring volunteers.

As part of a selection process, interested student volunteer candidates will be asked to submit an application responding to the Call for Volunteers detailing the planned approach to tackle the specific instructional design need described in the call. The proposal must also provide information about the academic and work backgrounds of the student volunteer candidates who will work on the project. Student volunteer candidates responding to the call must be sponsored by a faculty member from the student’s college instructional design program who will act as a reference for the student.

We Foster Client Relationships

Our purpose is to provide nonprofit and social enterprises with performance improvement consultation, instructional products, and related services. As a service-learning initiative, we seek to match volunteers with client organizations with a social mission.

Our interpretation of what organizations fall under this definition is purposely broad. It may be a nonprofit or a for-profit entity. Our purpose is to help those who help others, rather than limiting ourselves to only certain types of organizational structures.

We seek out client organizations that are excited about the opportunity to partner with volunteers in the service-learning process, and are willing to work in virtual or tele-commuting relationships. Find out about receiving volunteer help.

We Recruit Student Volunteers

We work with our client organizations to recruit student volunteers for service-learning projects. Parallel with our purpose to support client organizations, we provide instructional design students with opportunities to develop new skills and gain instructional design and performance consulting experience as volunteers in service-learning projects. The projects are completed pro bono by volunteer college students currently enrolled in instructional design and performance improvement programs.

As part of the recruiting process, we help our client organizations select volunteers based on the skills, background, and interests of the potential volunteers, as well as the nature of the project. If you are interested in gaining real-world experience as an instructional design or performance improvement consultant, find out about volunteering as a student designer.

We Facilitate Service-Learning

Volunteer college students selected by the client organization for service-learning projects work pro bono. In exchange for volunteering, the college students gain real-world experience, as well as support from their faculty sponsors and other mentors.

We aim to align our service-learning projects with the academic and experiential learning needs of our student volunteers and their faculty sponsors. To that end, we work with professors and other student advisors as partners to find ways to incorporate our service-learning projects with a student’s course, internship, or practicum requirements. Find out about how to involve your students … or how to become a volunteer mentor.


  1. Tomeka Lockhart German says:

    I am so grateful to have found this site/organization! I have completed my Masters in Instructional Technology but don’t have any real world experience yet in the field (I am a programmer for Alabama Dept. of Corrections) and would like to build up my portfolio before I begin applying for any ISD positions. I do plan on enrolling in the Mobile course you have listed in June but would like to be informed if you decide to offer another course in Instructional Technology as you have in the past. Incidentally, we (myself and a couple of friends) are looking into to starting a nonprofit to offer both ESL and Adult Education courses. Until that comes to pass, I would love to volunteer my services to your cause in whatever capacity!

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