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Kounkuey Design Initiative Inc.

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Economic Development, International, International Relief, Urban & Community Economic Development

Mission: Kounkuey Design Initiative (KDI) is a nonprofit design and community development organization, that partners with underserved communities in the US, Africa, and Latin America to physically transform communities and in the process, improve environmental, economic, and social quality of life. KDI believes that participatory planning and design are key to sustainable development. Our projects start with the vision that residents have for their community. To realize this vision, we work collaboratively with communities from conception through implementation. We build on local ideas, enhance them with technical knowledge and design innovation, and connect them to extant resources. In doing so, KDI gives communities new tools to advocate for themselves and address the major physical, social, and economic challenges they face.

Geographic areas served: Africa, Latin America, and the U.S.

Programs: Kenya: in 2014 kdi completed and handed over the fifth public space project (kpsp054) and sixth projects (kpsp06) in march . In august 2014 kdi initiated a seventh public space project (kpsp05) in the lindi ward of kibera funded by the german ngo welthungerhilfe. Construction started for this project in october. Kdi continued support for community groups at all sites. April kdi launched a pilot website to support improved decision making around water and sanitation projects in kibera, in partnership with nairobi water and sewerage company. Kdi also initiated a research project into urban agriculture in kibera in august of 2014 also funded by welthungerhilfe. Kdi continued to support crafts cooperative across multiple sites throughout the year. Kdi continued to test loan programs to support community businesses. Kdi continued development of all organizational procedures and formalised contracts with staff members. Kdi received a three month volunteer placement from engineers without borders uk in september through december 2014.

coachella: in eastern coachella valley we completed construction on first productive public space (pps) in the u. S. The pps benefits over 600 residents of the st. Anthony trailer park and nearby community of mecca. The st. Anthony trailer parks new public space has a playground, community garden, shade structure, community gathering space, and stage. We have facilitated a youth garden education program and an adult business class. We are continuing the design and development of our second project in the eastern coachella valley in the community of north shore. We have conducted over two dozen community design workshops to select the project location, public space components and programming, and conceptual site plan. We secured a donation of land and partnered with the local govt entity, desert recreation district, who will manage the public site after construction. With north shore community we have facilitated an adult business class, youth bike coop, bike share program, and arts and culture programming. We started research and development for two additional projects in the eastern coachella valley in the communities of thermal and oasis.

los angeles: we joined a coalition of six organizations called free lots angeles. We work with the other organizations to temporarily transform vacant lots into vibrant public spaces. Each lot transformation is developed through a participatory design process with the adjacent community members. In 2014, we transformed lots in two different communities in south los angeles, providing live music, arts production, games, recreational areas, and small libraries. San bernardino: in 2014, we began a small consulting project with the southern california episcopal diocese. The project included taking a small san bernardino congregation, mission st. Francis, through a visioning process of four participatory design workshops. In 2014, we completed 2 of 4 workshops. The workshops will lead to a completed conceptual plan for improved site use of the mission st. Francis in san bernardino. Haiti: kdi completed a 6-month engineering and planning consultancy on grand ravine upgrading plan for sisul consulding and architecture for humanity. Kdi also worked on a research project for agricultural advancement in the area.

ghana: kdi initiated a new consultancy project in ghana which ran through the year and consisted of baseline reseach and consultation on the sustainable development of a remote village in the northwestern corner of ghana.

Community Stories

10 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Brian Bell

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I had the real honor of working with the KDI Kenya team as an engineering intern summer in 2012. One of the most impressive aspects that makes KDI an outstanding organization is the commitment, cohesiveness, and expertise of the team members. The people KDI brings together, from industry experts to local leaders, not only make the community-driven design process successful, but empowers communities to come together around co-creating beautiful usable spaces equitably serving all community stakeholder groups. I can highly recommend Kounkuey Design Initiative as a leading and high-impact organization with a highly effective team worth investing in and joining.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I volunteered with KDI in Kibera for a summer after finishing undergrad and it was one of the most influential experiences I've ever had. KDI is an amazing organization, and the opportunities they provide are invaluable to both the communities they serve and the people they bring together to provide support and expertise. Everyone involved is beyond dedicated, it's inspiring to see. I feel super fortunate to have had the chance to work with and learn from KDI. Everything I took in from those three months continue to shape my work as a professional today.

Melissa342

Client Served

Rating: 5

KDI works with my organization, the Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust, in a number of different capacities: policy, programs and design. I have direct experience working with their licensed landscape architect who has reviewed our in-house designs for small scale park / garden projects. Their advice pushed me to think more deeply about the technical components of my designs. They were also a great sounding board to help me evaluate if a project budget and design concept was on target or not. I can't say enough great things about the passion, technical skill and creativity that is possessed by the KDI team. I look forward to working with them on more projects in the future.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I've worked with KDI on several projects and witnessed first-hand the dedicated and talented work of the entire team. They create cutting-edge, culturally competent public spaces that have lasting positive impacts on communities in need, and they are committed to evaluating and understanding how they can leverage their projects to do the most possible good. KDI does fantastic and important work!

Jose H.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Besides having the opportunity to work in collaboration with KDI on the North Shore Park project, I have deep admiration for KDI's work.
KDI is a group of extremely committed and talented individuals who strive for the betterment of underserved communities both in the United States and around the World.
Their unique strategy of engaging the communities in the decision making process ensures that the types of projects they do in the communities is in sync with the inhabitant's needs.

Board Member

Rating: 5

My family and I have witnessed first-hand the work of KDI around the world. You will be hard pressed to find an organization more involved at the grass roots level of community engagement that is having such an incredible global impact. Their work spans developed and undeveloped countries as well as urban and rural communities. Wherever they are, communities are transformed and lives improved. Great work KDI!

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Having worked with KDI on a number of projects, I'm confident in saying that both the organization and its employees are committed to improving communities through thoughtful community engagement and participatory design. The impact of this process is significant. I've been lucky to be involved in community workshops, led by KDI, which focused on listening to and communicating with residents. The process allowed residents of disadvantaged communities to feel empowered, and establish significant roles in the design process. KDI's process should influence both design thinking and practice at all levels.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

KDI is a global thought leader in community-driven design, truly engaging communities around the world to provide successful, productive planning and design solutions for marginalized populations. Their process and projects offer results for communities to sustain growth and build capacity for people. Their proven technique is enviable and should inform development practices in the United States as well as internationally.

April86

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I volunteered with KDI during one summer in Kibera, Nairobi, Kenya and what a truly great experience it was! KDI is so effective at what they do and they work very hard at incorporating multiple perspectives into their projects. KDI is improving lives and providing comprehensive, holistic design thinking and execution for people who need it most. And they continue to see their projects through even after construction is finished - continuing to work with their beneficiaries to realize the full potential of the project that the community built. It's an inspiring group doing important work.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I worked with KDI on two projects over the last two years and have been incredibly impressed by their work. One example, KDI created a pilot program called Play Streets in Los Angeles. Their commitment to robust and authentic community engagement and empowerment is rivaled by very few in Los Angeles. Their creative thinking, beautiful designs, and timely project delivery is something few other non-profits can match.