Austin school focuses on social problems

Austin (KXAN)- Have you ever felt like your job is just not fulfilling. Maybe you want to make more of an impact?

KXAN found a school in East Austin that is helping students take their careers to the next level by helping them help others.

It’s not what you might expect a higher education institution to look like. But then again, Austin doesn’t do things by the book.

Jon Kolko opened the Austin Center for Design in 2010.

“A big reason you wouldn’t find us at the top of a big skyscraper downtown is because almost all of the work is immersive” said Kolko. “Students go spend a lot of time with the real people they’re trying to help.”

Students bring a range of skills to the table to study complex social problems. Through a series of steps they learn how to develop a solution.

One team has been working on an issue for nearly six months.

“We realized there’s a lot of fear that happens around birth,” said student Anna Krachey.

After interviewing expectant mothers, they’ve created an app to help them take control of the situation. Through further questioning Krachey’s group has come up with a gameplan for friends and family before the baby comes.

“We heard things like I assumed everyone would know what to do and nobody knew what to do,” said Krachey.

Scott Gerlach and his team are tackling a different issue.

“When people leave the hospital they are given a ton of information all at once 24 typically they don’t absorb all that information 25 they have complications,” he said.

Gerlach and his team are now developing a service to help medical providers offer better support during that critical time.

Many of the alumni are still running the business that was born here

“It’s called Girls Guild,” said graduate Cheyenne Weaver. We’re a service that connects girls and women with artists and makers of all kind through long and short term apprenticeships.”

There are at least two things you will not find inside the school, a lack of productivity nor a lack of passion.

“We’ve really moved an idea and an interest and a topic through research, prototyping and into a start up that we’re piloting,” said Krachey.

The school is growing. The deadline for fall registration is May 1st. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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