Asad Bandeali
Strategy ● Facilitation & Coaching ● Research ● Design Thinking
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Sweet Water Foundation





Sweet Water Foundation -- Storytelling


Industry: Non-Profit Foundation


Client: Sweet Water Foundation, Chicago IL

Sweet Water Foundation (SWF) is an organization that focuses on nurturing under-served communities holistically through farming, arts, and education. They empower individuals in those communities to tackle troubles through sustainable farming and other urban improvement initiatives.


Project Challenge & Goals

Sweet Water Foundation needed help to tell their story, mission and work in a succinct and compelling way to its diverse constituent group. Experience Institute partnered with Sweet Water Foundation to provide strategic business advice.


My co-workers and I conducted empathy interviews. developed user personas, and prototyped potential solutions for Sweet Water Foundation.

Research Approach

Experience Institute fellows conducted research over two-days. Through empathy interviews, historical analysis, and site visit, we gathered the context in regards to SWF and its work. Interviews were conducted with Sweet Water staff and apprentices, key partners and collaborators, and audience members.

Pulling out key observations, emotions, and quotes, the team identified major themes and insights. I interviewed 3 individuals who were longtime partners of SWF and created user persona. It was followed by a brainstorming session by the sub-groups on their respective focus group areas. 

The focus area for my team was “Outreach to Funders”. Based on the research insights we prototyped an Urban Agricultural Experience. The prototype was presented to SWF in person, and also in a written form as a strategic document.


The insights discovered from the research phase were as follows:

  1. SWF’s resident chef shared stories of how young people’s views of certain foods (especially vegetables) often shift after they help prepare a meal and/or eat fresh vegetables they just harvested.

  2. A civic leader shared that SWF is not getting the exposure it deserves within Chicago and suggested that students studying Urban Planning at local universities should do a rotation at SWF.

  3. SWF is addressing fundamental problems by providing access to healthy food, jobs, education & community.

  4. SWF’s emphasis on growing and serving healthy food has been successful in raising awareness and bringing people together.

These insights led to the ideas for outreach to potential corporate and philanthropic partners.


Sweet Water Foundation was provided with a strategic document that can be presented to potential investors as well as be implemented by SWF leadership. The document provides insights and actionable steps in the focus areas of:

  1. Designing an organizational “capture habit”,

  2. Measuring impact,

  3. Tailoring the messaging & redesigning the website,

  4. Outreach to funders.

My team tackled the “Outreach to funders” focus area. We prototyped a tour to show the different activities – urban farming, cooking, community building at each facility. The sequence is intentional, connecting experiences from one place to another. Going through this tour will give the participants a holistic understanding of urban farming. They would understand the effect of nutritional food on the body and share the meal prepared with their community. The tour ends with a “Thank You” package which contains seeds that can be planted in the participant's’ own communities


Experience Institute team consisted of 10 design fellows, including myself. There were 4 teams that tackled different focus areas. Each team consisted of 2-3 individuals. I worked closely Siyun Deng to come up with the proposed solutions.