Till School – Erin Huizenga

Recap: 3/2016

March’s meeting was hosted by Erin Huizenga, founder of Till School. Till is a unique two-year “portfolio school” that emphasizes real world design experience with actual clients. Erin explained how she arrived at the idea for the school after reflecting on her own design school experiences. She also found particular inspiration in her niece’s focused interest in the field of design.

Erin’s presentation sparked an in-depth conversation that touched on a wide range of topics related to both design and education. Topics included –

purpose of education
student characteristics & patterns
gap year programs
college preparedness (Upward Bound, junior colleges)
adult education

A sentiment that frequently came up was a risk-averse attitude by students in the classroom and how it may negatively impact the next generation of designers. The comparative benefits of forming a school like Till as a for-profit (e.g. agile, founder-owned) vs. non-profit (e.g. grants, community-owned) were also explored. The group also discussed the bias towards quantifiable results when pitching to venture capital funding sources, Till’s connection to economic development and growth in Chicago, potential corporate partners, and the potential for adult education alongside educating youth in need.

Relevant Links:



Reboot Accelerator

Story of Stuff

“Sex and Start-ups” (article)

Most Likely to Succeed (film)