MFA Design for Social Innovation Announces the Winners of the Paul Polak Scholarships

Jul 24, 2014 12:30 PM ET

July 24, 2014 /3BL Media/ - “To me, design is simply creative problem solving with a dash of zanyness.  I continue to be inspired by the work accomplished at the Design for Social Innovation Program at SVA and the creativity of people like Cy Nakpodia and Bruno Silva, who are receiving the scholarship in my name.  Cy and Bruno, may your future zanyness far exceed mine.”  Paul Polak

We’re pleased to announce the recipients of the prestigious Paul Polak Scholarship. Bruno Silva and Cy Nakpodia, who will join DSI this fall, exemplify passion and dedication to the field of Design for Social Innovation.

Paul Polak is a longtime friend, advisor, and all around inspiration to our program. For the past 30 years, Paul has worked with thousands of farmers in countries around the world—including Bangladesh, India, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Myanmar, Nepal, Vietnam, Zambia and Zimbabwe–to help design and produce low–cost, income–generating products that have already moved 22 million people out of poverty.  Paul’s ability to respond with innovative solutions–such as the $25 treadle pump and small farm drip–irrigation systems starting at $3—have helped increase poor farmers’ net income by $288 million annually.

Cy Nakpodia received an MA in International Relations from City College of NY, and a BS in Political Science from University of Jos in Nigeria. Cy is currently the Graphic Design Manager of CUNY communications. She is interested in utilizing design through creative peace building practices to help bridge cultural divides.

Bruno Silva received a BFA in Graphic Design from SVA.  He currently works at the educational tech company, Amplify. Bruno’s interest is in re-imaging how educators and students obtain information through digital platforms.

Deep thanks to the Reis Foundation for their support and congratulations to Cy and Bruno. We know you’ll be inspired by Paul’s example and are looking forward to helping your bright stars rise.

About DSI: 

MFA Design for Social Innovation at the School of Visual Arts in New York City is the first graduate program in the rapidly growing field of social impact design. It was created for designers who want to work at a strategic level within business, government and the social sector to solve the major challenges humanity faces, and to offer non-designers an opportunity to use design to create positive impact.

The two-year, 60-credit program prepares graduates to work in complex systems, expanding the methodologies of design to large engagements—from the invisible systems of beliefs and mental models that drive behavior to the forms of visual design that engage and inspire participation. They learn to scale the impact of research, mapping, game theory, informal systems and economies, metrics and data visualization. MFA Design for Social Innovation students work with real clients throughout the program, gaining hands-on experience with multinational corporations, nonprofits and social entrepreneurs around the globe. The curriculum encompasses a broad range of issues, including conservation, health, food and agriculture, poverty, women’s rights, social justice, fair trade, education and community revitalization. 

Please direct questions about MFA DSI and the Paul Polak Scholarship to

More from School of Visual Arts - Design for Social Innovation

MFA DSI Thesis Show 2017

AIGA Design Leader Interview Series

DSI Newsletter : February 2017

Social Design is the Future