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The Service Design Studio at the Mayor’s Office for Economic Opportunity

What we do

NYC Opportunity launched the Service Design Studio to help spread valuable methodologies that are often underused inside government. As a discipline, service design is a vehicle for advancing positive change. Our approach begins by trying to understand the needs of people who use and oversee public services, and designing the service to meet those needs. With that knowledge, our team works with City agency partners to shape services that are effective, user-friendly, sustainable, and scalable.

designing effective public services

We coined the term “Civic Service Design” to mean applying the tools and methods of service design to government-run or -funded programs. In our context, this usually means unraveling complex social service processes with the goal of identifying areas for improved efficiency or results. We’ve tailored tried-and-true design methods to complement and support the expertise of the City employees who develop and deliver New York City’s programs.

The outcomes of the Civic Service Design process include:

  • Clarification of complicated or interlaced systems and processes
  • Ensuring your team is on the same page about major initiatives and projects
  • Solutions rooted in the needs of people who interact with your service or program
  • Assurance that time and taxpayer dollars can be allocated to the right initiatives

Learn more about what Civic Service Design has achieved for New York City by reading case studies of our past projects.


Who we are

Our Studio is made up of designers with backgrounds in policy, planning, user experience, and technology.

Sitting within the Mayor’s Office for Economic Opportunity, the Studio also draws on staff with expertise in other areas, such as program development, performance management, and evaluation. Our collective team has experience working collaboratively with City agencies to help advance their goals.


How to Work with the Studio

The Studio is an on-call resource for any City agency looking to make services or programs more accessible to the people they serve. We offer five ways to support your work:

Office Hours with the Service Design Studio


Office Hours Each week we set aside time for City employees to meet with our designers  to get light-touch consulting on a project or idea, or just learn more about how Civic Service Design is applicable to the work of your City agency. Book an Office Hour!

Tools + Tactics in Action workshop


Workshops + Trainings Drawing from the types of support requested in our Office Hours, we’ve created the Tools + Tactics in Action Workshop to provide facilitated, hands-on training on the basics of service design. Participants will walk away with an applied understanding of how to conduct a sprint of design research, identify insights from the research, and use these insights to inform enhancements to programs and services. These 3.5 hour workshops are offered every month to any City employee. Sign up for a Tools + Tactics in Action workshop.

Civic Design Forum


Civic Design Forum We host bi-monthly Civic Design Forums in partnership with the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT) Gov Lab + Studio to share best practices and run product and service design workshops. These Forums are limited to City employees only. Join the Civic Design Forum community.

Designing for Opportunity


Designing for Opportunity Projects We take on 6-12 month projects to redesign existing or launch new public services. Our projects are deep partnerships with City agencies to embed design methods into their day-to-day operations. Learn about our current project with the Administration for Children’s Services, Designing for Opportunity: Pathways to Prevention, or reach out to us with a project idea.

Tools and Tactics


Civic Service Design Tools + Tactics Interested to learn what Civic Service Design is before you speak with our team directly? Check out our Tools + Tactics, tried and true service design methods tailored to meet the needs of the public sector. Our Tools + Tactics are the undercurrent to all of our offerings, and exist as a free and open source website, binder and field guide. Sign up for an Office Hour to get a binder or a field guide, or check out all of the Tools + Tactics and helpful templates on

Current Pilots

Designed by Community


Designed by Community Fellowship Program We’re piloting a program model for redistributing planning and decision making power with communities by providing a Non-Profit Community Based Organization and Community Leaders with financial resources and capacity building around design methods. This model enables those living and working in community to use these resources to accomplish community-defined goals. Read the Designed by Community RFP to learn more about the current iteration of this program.

Connect with Us

  • Send us a note
  • Follow us to keep up with our work Twitter | Medium

  • We thank our Founding Partner Citi Community Development for generous support. We are grateful for the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City’s partnership.