HOLIS SCHOOL: Building resilience of NGOs

Centrum Veronica Hostětín / Czech Republic

27th of August - 4th of September 2023

Luc Kordas

What lies ahead for NGOs and non-profit organizations on a local (global) scale? How does the cultivation of a flexible yet resilient organisational culture impact daily operations? How can we support them?

In the Visegrad Region, our focus has been on supporting the Early Childhood Development (ECD) organisations. Over the past three years, Holis has dedicated extensive effort to this subject, commencing with the Holis School 2020 edition and the Places to Grow Project. Our findings have underscored the critical need for these organizations to cultivate resilience internally, equipping them to not only withstand but also flourish in the prevailing era of perpetual crisis.

Collaborating closely with three Early Childhood Development entities based in the Visegrad Region, whom we affectionately refer to as 'Challenge Owners' due to their shared commitment to addressing significant challenges.

These organizations:

Cesta Mladych from Slovakia

Férová škola from Czech Republic

NoBadKid from Hungary

Were recommended by prominent funding bodies and organizations for their remarkable potential. Despite their potential, they confront operational, scaling, and financial obstacles, among others.

In conjunction with our dedicated teams and facilitators, our primary focus has been on comprehending the unique contexts and needs of these organizations. This understanding has paved the way for the development of prototype solutions that align with the capabilities of these entities. Through this nine-day journey, several key insights emerged:

• The most substantial potential for growth and resilience originates within the organizations themselves, rather than external influences.
• The reaffirmation of an organization's mission and vision, particularly after sustained periods of operation, is a pivotal driver of resilience.
• Exploring unconventional partnerships yields significant opportunities.

In collaboration with these three ECD organizations, we have delved into envisioning future scenarios that empower them to become resilient. Our primary objective has been to formulate functions, activities, and sustainable business models that will enable them to thrive amidst the ever-evolving landscape.

From August 27th to September 4th, 2023, a cohort of 21 participants hailing from three continents and representing 11 diverse countries, with backgrounds spanning product and service design, strategy, activism, and coding, convened at the picturesque Veronica Centre in Hostetin, Czech Republic—a place emblematic of sustainable values. The workshop centered on the collaboration with three selected NGOs, who spearheaded the creation of innovative business and creative proposals aimed at fortifying their organizational resilience.

Over the course of nine intensive days, the participants, organized into three teams and guided by 3 international team facilitators, worked diligently to conceptualize and develop three distinct projects. The enthusiastic reception of these projects underscores their significant potential, as they are slated for imminent implementation by the respective NGOs, firmly attesting to the institution's tangible and influential role in this endeavor.

The projects were delivered by


Yang Li

Innovator, researcher, business & service designer

An innovator and mindfulness practitioner, Yang designs services and experiences informed by rigorous research, inspired through iterative prototypes and integrated via a collaborative approach. With unlimited curiosity about the complex humanity and imagination of the world from different perspectives, he has worked in industries from healthcare and logistics to agriculture. He is skilled in research, facilitation and rapid prototyping. Besides working as a design researcher, he also starts his company Studio Nwak designing for consciousness, intelligence, and being. He worked at H&M Group and did his internship at IDEO!


Henryk Stawicki

Circular design strategist & sustainability advocate

A circular design consultant, strategist, leader and facilitator. His expertise comes from human-centred design, circular design, design process & management. He helps companies create product and service strategies based on innovation, sustainability and circular economy. Teacher at various universities around Europe. A co-founder of two design consultancies, Change Pilots in Poland and Next Agents in Sweden. He always brings a multicultural perspective thanks to years of practice abroad, including New York and London and such organisations as Parsons School of Design - The New School and IDEO. In the past 20 years, He worked as a strategist, manager, team leader, and sustainability advocate.


Archie MS

User experience researcher, design strategist & speaker

User experience researcher, design strategist, speaker, podcaster, coach, facilitator, and community wrangler. You name it they have done it. And that too all over the world. Their journey into user experience (UX) began in architecture and industrial design at Pratt Institute and Savannah College of Art and Design respectively. Further gaining expertise in #usercentereddesign, #fintech, and #strategic + #futuresthinking through their role as User Researcher at GE Transportation, a Wabtec company in Atlanta and their current role leading the UX team at Capgemini in London. Outside work, they enjoy building diverse and inclusive communities and organizing design events/conferences for The Design Futures Initiative. They help these enterprises and communities to shape their future using strategic visioning tools.

Junior Facilitator

Dominika Majewska

Industrial Design/ Speculative Design

Dominika is a designer, researcher and social innovator based in Copenhagen, Denmark. She works at the intersection of social design and environmental transitions, focusing on creating balanced connections between human-made and natural systems. User experience researcher passionate about psychology. Explorer, looking for connections between the urban and rural tomorrows.

Junior Facilitator

Lilla Török

Social Designer & Researcher

Multidisciplinary designer working in the intersection of design, art and technology, focusing on social innovation. She became fluent in design thinking, inclusive design, facilitation, co-creation, speculative design, and six languages by exploring different fields in four other countries, from hardware-software startups through social and cultural associations to businesses. She co-founded Open the Kimono, a grassroots association to invite creatives and laypeople to co-create art based on essential topics for humanity's future. Another project of hers, Sinematic Xperience, allows people to be in a safe space to discuss sensitive and taboo subjects. Her main strengths lie in research and concept development. She finds an infinite source of inspiration in life, light, nature, people, social interactions and science for her ideas.

Junior Facilitator

Alvaro Valls Boix

Consultant, project manager

Alvaro is mathematician and project manager with experience in small and large companies. His problem-solving oriented mind makes him always look for continuous improvement. He is passionate about service design, and thinks it is the key to make the world a better place to live.


Oleg Koefoed

Action philosopher, academician & consultant

Action philosopher, academician, consultant and expert. Oleg regularly serves as a guide, lecturer, facilitator, and action researcher for EU institutions, Baltic Sea regional partners, cultural institutions, universities, food start-ups, municipalities, and governments. Expert in existainability, regenerative paradigm, pollination, organisation culture and immersed culture. In the past 20 years, Oleg has been developing methods combining social science tools, aesthetic research and creative interventions, focusing on biological and physical systems and their affordances and demands. Co-founder of Growing Pathways, Leader of the Centre for Regenerative Transformation at Promentum, Postdoctoral Researcher at Københavns Universitet - University of Copenhagen, Teacher at Copenhagen Business School and Roskilde University and many more.


Avinash Pratap Singh

Program Lead & Social Innovator

Expert on sustainability, grassroots leadership, human-centred and social innovation. Avinash is an award-winning grassroots youth leader with a focus on environmental sustainability. Back in India, He worked with over 5000+ volunteers and 100+ full-time employees as the CEO of Waste Warriors Society - a grassroots nonprofit providing waste management solutions to communities living in eco-sensitive zones of the Himalayan region. Currently, Avinash is a master's student of Public Management at the University of Potsdam as a Helmut Schmidt Scholarship holder by DAAD. Further, he practices Design Thinking at Hasso Plattner Institute Germany. He can be found running, cycling, or climbing when not debating on environmental issues.


Dr Bori Fehér

Social designer & Design strategist

Dr Bori Fehér is a social designer and design strategist focused on resilience and sustainability. Bori heads the Social Design Hub at MOME Innovation Center (MOME Interaction Design - Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design in Budapest). She has facilitated students and researchers in social, eco and humanitarian design practice-based research projects for over a decade. Her research focuses on the climate crisis and its relations to social resilience, particularly on underprivileged communities and organisations on the rural periphery. She is the Co-Chair of the International Social Design Network she co-founded in 2020. Since 2014 Bori has been a Visiting Scholar at the Maryland Institute College of Art Center for Social Design in Baltimore, USA. She has a background in architecture and previously practised it in New York, USA.


Radoslav Pittner

Senior Change Manager at Ashoka

Experienced moderator, impact facilitator and coach. Senior Change Manager at Ashoka, where he focuses on accompanying Ashoka Fellows and other social innovators and socially beneficial initiatives on the way to collective impact and systemic changes. Studied law and international relations at Masaryk University in Brno, where he was also a launch Manager at Career. He used to work for the global organization Greenpeace as Fundraising Manager. Co-founded the startup Smitio, a platform enabling direct connections between employees and employers.


Stanislav Daniel


Stano Daniel is an expert on social inclusion with primary focus on inclusive education and support in early childhood. As a programme manager at Porticus Vienna he focuses on education in Central and Eastern Europe. His preceding international experience includes networking of civil society organisations working with disadvantaged children at European level, research of human rights in education, migration, health, housing. Along with his job he also is a member of the board of directors of Trnava University and the Roma Education Fund.


Šárka Benešová

Talent Management Designer

Šárka helps organisations to create a supportive, value-driven environment for the growth of human potential. She guides them through innovations, cultural change, design of development programs, hiring, and onboarding processes. Her background is in adult education and experiential learning, she cooperates with a Czech design studio Court of Moravia, which draws on design thinking, human-centred design, and game design.


Hover me!
Product Designer
Michał Kociszewski
Łódź, Poland
Industrial & 2-3D designer (Poland)
Agata Gancarczyk
Business Development Director & Brand Specialist
Beatriz Segura Garcia
Researcher & Communication Designer
Kornelia Błoch
Furniture Designer
Klara Czopik
UX Designer
Dominika Michalska
Chef, plant-based cuisine enthusiast & promoter
Dominika Targosz
Industrial Design/ Speculative Design
Dominika Majewska
Consultant, project manager
Alvaro Valls Boix
Social Designer & Researcher
Lilla Török
Nutrition Educator
Agata Szczebyło
Experience Designer UX/UI
Piotr Stanisławski
Service Design Consultant & Design Researcher
Enikő Barbarics
Senior UX Designer
Timea Mónus
Strategic Product Designer
Izaskun Perez
Community Organizer & Activist
Marlon Davis
Engineer, Scientist & Artist
Marvin Davis
Art Historia, Curator, Host & Chef
Viviana Calvagno
Content Strategist & Social Innovator
Ivannia Alvarado
Costa Rica
Experience Designer
Eva-Maria Chapuy
Professor & Researcher
Diego Alatorre

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