NEW Strategic Design in a Box from The Forbes Funds, Greater Pittsburgh Nonprofit Partnership, maad labs, and Carnegie Mellon University

by | October 24, 2023 | Community Resources, GPNP, Innovation, News, Nonprofit Summit, Press Release, Strategy | 0 comments

New Program Makes Strategic Design Templates More Accessible to Nonprofits and Philanthropy, empowering individuals and organizations to leverage design toolkit for social impact. 


Contact:  Olivia Benson, 

Pittsburgh, PA – October 24, 2023 – The Forbes Funds, in collaboration with the Greater Pittsburgh Nonprofit Partnership (GPNP), maad labs, and Carnegie Mellon University (CMU)’s Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship, today announced the launch of Strategic Design in a Box. This new program builds upon more than three (3) years of investment to make strategic design templates and methods more accessible to nonprofits and philanthropy, helping them to develop and implement effective strategies for real-time problem-solving, manage near-time economic and societal challenges, and future-proof their mission and services. 

Strategic design is a process that helps organizations identify and address system-wide challenges and opportunities by tackling complex problems with humanity-centered methods. Strategic design can be used to develop new programs and services, improve existing ones, and adapt at the speed of significant disruptions like the rising trend of AI in everyday life. For nonprofits and philanthropy, strategic design encourages better and faster decision-making and prioritization when working through the complexity of constrained resource distribution and looking at the future needs of our social safety nets in completely new and modern ways. 

Strategic Design in a Box provides nonprofits and philanthropy with a collection of resources that can be used to guide their strategic planning process: 20+ methods to explore community and funder needs, 20+ digital and downloadable (print-ready) templates to utilize based on the digital capabilities of the group, 20+ example prompts informed by real social impact organizations to practice with, and more than four (4) hours of easy to consume video instruction recorded with a variety of Carnegie Mellon Faculty. The methods range from popular templates such as “Stakeholder Maps” or “Personas” to new AI-informed tools and capabilities to capture critical inputs and inform immediate action plans as well as long-range strategic plans.

Via the Forbes Funds and GPNP, course participants will also be able to engage with peer organizations to share practices and learnings throughout their education journey. Additionally, individuals who attend the upcoming GPNP Summit will have the opportunity to engage in interactive workshops and take advantage of onsite expertise to navigate the design “box.” 

“Strategic design is an essential tool for nonprofits and philanthropy, but it can be difficult and time-consuming to implement,” said Mark J. Giaquinto, President & Treasurer at Vitalant Foundation (previously Blood Science Foundation). “Strategic Design in a Box makes it easier for nonprofits and philanthropy to get started with strategic design and to develop effective strategies for achieving their missions.”   

 “The Forbes Funds has a forty-year history of building capacity for the regional nonprofit sector,” said Fred Brown, president and CEO of the Forbes Funds. “Strategic Design in a Box is a valuable and proven resource that will help nonprofits to develop and implement effective strategies for making a difference, to move from surviving to thriving, and to make these tools available and accessible to those who may need them most both in our region and on a national stage that are dealing with similar and ever-changing issues.”   

“CMU’s Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship is excited to support GPNP with Strategic Design in a Box,” said Dave Mawhinney, Executive Director of the Swartz Center. “This program is a great example of how academia can work with the community to develop innovative solutions to real-world problems and inspire entrepreneurship in all of its forms including social impact.” 

“maad labs is fortunate to be a part of Strategic Design in a Box,” said Adam Paulisick, CMU faculty and founder of maad labs. “We believe that everyone should have access to the tools and resources they need to succeed as part of the #democratizedesign movement, and we are committed to making strategic design more accessible to nonprofits and philanthropy by contributing to templates and methods that would otherwise be expensive or time-consuming to access.” 

Strategic Design in a Box is now available to nonprofits and philanthropy in the Pittsburgh region at no cost to GPNP members and strategic partners of the Forbes Funds by contacting either organization directly. To learn more about the national rollout of the program or to access the toolkit, please contact: or visit program details found at

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About GPNP: Since 2005, The Greater Pittsburgh Nonprofit Partnership (GPNP) has strengthened our region by improving the viability, impact, and effectiveness of nonprofits. Today, the region’s nonprofit sector gives citizens a greater voice, inspires public participation, and promotes a vibrant community. By engaging and connecting nonprofits across missions to build partnerships that strengthen the effectiveness and sustainability of services provided to the community, GPNP effectively links nonprofits with the philanthropic community in a way that facilitates regional, statewide and national partnerships and elected officials to advance the capacity and focus of the nonprofit sector to meet current and future community needs.  

About The Forbes Funds: The Forbes Funds was established in 1982 to provide emergency financial assistance to nonprofit organizations experiencing funding interruptions or short-term cash flow problems. Today, The Forbes Funds (TFF) sits at the intersection between funders and the nonprofit community and advances the well-being of our region by helping human service and community-based nonprofits build their management capacity and increase the impact of their mission work. TFF supports regional nonprofits both as individual organizations and as a unified coalition of leaders, funders and advocates working collaboratively throughout southwestern Pennsylvania. TFF works with local, national and international partners to deepen the impact and capacity to address local challenges.  

About maad labs:  maad labs is a do tank, not a think tank, that performs digital experiments, provides executive training, builds AI/ML and data products such as, and consults with venture-backed, social impact, and large, multi-national companies bringing bold, audacious, and complex ideas, experiences, and technologies to life.  

About Carnegie Mellon University’s Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship: The Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship, works with its partners to serve the entire CMU community — departments, colleges, centers and campuses — to accelerate bringing research innovations and promising ideas to the global marketplace and helping all entrepreneurial students, faculty, staff and alumni tap into the “innovation ecosystem.” 



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