2022 Design Challenge



Peace is one of our most valued and sought-after human conditions. It is more than just the absence of war and signifies respect and well-being for all. Yet today, there are ongoing conflicts and vast social, environmental, and economic inequities in our communities and around the world. The United Nations calls for action to ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030. This is where peacebuilders, designers, communities (and you!) step in. They are designing for peace through projects that creatively challenge the status quo, embrace justice and truth, support safe, healthy, respectful environments, and more.

The 2022 National High School Design Competition challenges high school students around the country to join in envisioning the future we want to live in and designing for a more peaceful and just world.

Be ambitious, innovative, and bold! This can be personal, in your community, around the country, or across the globe. Create a sketch of your idea and describe how your design addresses the challenge. Review how to enter and use these resources to start thinking like a designer!

Who Can Enter

The design competition is open to all teens ages 13 through 19 who are high school students in grades 9 through 12, or who are homeschooled students working toward a high school degree anywhere in the United States. You can enter as an individual or as a team of up to three people. Review the competition rules and conditions for complete information on eligibility.

The Selection Process

The National High School Design Competition is organized in two stages. In Stage One, competitors will create and submit their design ideas per the entry requirements. Cooper Hewitt will select finalists to proceed to Stage Two of the Design Competition. All Stage One entries will be judged anonymously.

During Stage Two, the finalists will finalize their designs according to the requirements in the National High School Design Competition: Stage Two Brief document, which will be sent only to the selected finalists. Then, finalists will participate in a series of virtual mentoring activities and present their designs virtually to the judges.

Mentor Weekend: Lead Mentor

Kenneth Bailey is the co-founder of the Design Studio for Social Intervention (ds4si). His interests focus on the research and development of design tools for marginalized communities to address complex social issues. With over three decades of experience in community practice, Bailey brings a unique perspective on the ethics of design in relation to community engagement, the arts, and cultural action. Projects he has produced at ds4si include Action Lab (2012–2014), Public Kitchen (2011–2018), Social Emergency Response Center (SERC, 2017), People’s Redevelopment Authority (2018), and inPUBLIC (2019). Bailey was recently a Visiting Scholar in collaboration with University of Tasmania and also a founding member of Theatrum Mundi NYC with Richard Sennett. His new book (co-authored with DS4SI) is entitled Ideas—Arrangements—Effects: Systems Design and Social Justice (Minor Compositions, 2020). He received his MFA in Public Action from Bennington College in 2021.



The deadline for the 2022 National High School Design Competition has passed. Email us at DesignCompetition@si.edu to be notified of the 2023 competition.

Selection Criteria

Entries will be evaluated for overall design excellence according to the following criteria:

  • Innovation: How creative and original is the design?
  • Impact: Large or small, what is the impact of the design?
  • Relevance: How does the design create a more peaceful and just world for the intended user(s)?
  • Communication: How clear is the design idea from the sketch and question responses?

Additional criteria for the judging will be shared with finalists in the Stage Two Brief document and will include clarity of final presentation and materials, along with sportsmanship.

Awards and Prizes

Winner (1):

  • The winner will be invited to participate in a virtual program with the opportunity to meet with designers and/or other experts around the winner’s interests in design.
  • The winner will receive a complimentary Family Membership to Cooper Hewitt.


  • Mentor Call: In April 2022, finalists will receive initial feedback from an assigned mentor during an hour-long virtual Zoom meeting or phone call. (Zoom’s privacy policy is available here: https://zoom.us/educationalprivacy)
  • Mentor Weekend: On May 14–15, 2022, finalists will participate in a virtual Mentor Weekend on Zoom to dive into the design process, learn more about how designers use design to solve everyday challenges, further discuss their design ideas, and prepare for the final presentations to the judges.
  • Judging Weekend: On June 11–12, 2022, finalists will participate in a virtual Judging Weekend on Zoom to learn more about design and present their designs live to a diverse panel of creative experts.
  • Finalists’ designs will be featured in a special online exhibition celebrating the creativity of promising young designers on the Cooper Hewitt website.

Honorable Mentions:

  • The designs of all finalists and honorable mentions will be displayed on the Cooper Hewitt website to celebrate the creativity of promising young designers.

Finalist activities are required. Winner activities are optional. Review the competition rules and conditions for complete information.

2022 Special Thanks

The National High School Design Competition is made possible with major support from Shelby and Frederick Gans. Generous support is also provided by Adobe.