Co-designing community-centered solutions for rural child care
with H. E. Butt Foundation

Supported by The H. E. Butt Foundation, the Real County Community Initiative, or RCCI, acts as a hub of resources in healthcare, education, and mental health for local residents and a meeting place for local leaders.



Topic Areas

Community Development
Youth Development

Project Types

Programs & Services

Real County is a sparsely populated area of southwestern Texas. Residents there face many of the same complexities as other rural communities: lack of quality child care, healthcare, and early learning opportunities. The H. E. Butt Foundation recognized that although these issues aren’t unique to their county, solutions would be. They wanted to work on promoting the health of children and families in the region. Even more importantly, they wanted to build local capacity to take initiative and co-create these locally-driven solutions.

GGS partnered with The H. E. Butt Foundation to explore human-centered design solutions to the issues facing children and families in Real County. We worked closely with a “design team” of local leaders to research, design, and eventually pilot new approaches to childcare.

Project Outputs

In order to share our community-based research, we created a presentation that gave depth and nuance to the experiences of caring for young children, and walked through both barriers and opportunities for design. View our full presentation here.

In order to design programs that would be embraced by the community, we created visual prototypes to share key aspects of each program’s experience. See our full set of prototypes here.

Client & Community Outcomes

The H. E. Butt Foundation embraced deeper listening and partnership with community members to address important issues. Through the design team format, they elevated local leaders as peers and thought partners. And those individuals built human-centered design (HCD) skills, which can be applied to the development of new programs and solutions, and which center more equitable processes moving forward. 

GGS provided more than just a design framework — [they] showed us how to use design. This process has been inspirational and very clear…and I think it’s taught us a lot. This hasn’t just been about letting a consultant do their thing — [they’ve] created a skillset for us.

Perri Rosheger Vice President of Community Engagement

Team & Studio Impact

At GGS, we typically categorize our projects as either consulting or capacity-building. Consulting is where we are hired to solve a problem using HCD, whereas capacity-building is where we are hired to teach others to solve problems using HCD. This project was the first one we truly could not categorize, because it so seamlessly blended consulting with capacity building. We followed an “I do, we do, you do” approach where our team led the kickoff, research and synthesis, with support from the local design team. We shared ideation and concept development pretty equally. And then the design team led the rounds of prototyping and piloting, while we stepped back into a support and coaching role. This approach led to both elegant solutions and local capacity, which felt like a “best of both worlds” scenario. We hope to be able to dial each of these modes up and down in future projects!

I sing [GGS’] praises often, and loudly, to other organizations, who are wanting to do community engagement work, where the community is leading the work.

Dana Williams Former RCCI Community Engagement Director