Skilled in the art of spatial justice, we inspire students to design more inclusive campus cultures and climates that enhance a sense of belonging for all.


Our Story Begins…

#WeArewelcomeHere began in 2016 when students of color at Teachers College, Columbia University began to share their stories of disbelonging on campus.



Our founders Ilya Benjamin and Marisol Cantú decided to do something about it. Ilya launched a logo and coined the hashtag #WeAreWelcomeHere. Our goal was to sell 20 shirts in 20 days to gauge student interest. We completed our inaugural challenge in 14 days.


Expanding Safe Spaces…

Inspired by Shirley Chisholm’s Quote: “If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.”We created new brave spaces around campus to have difficult conversations. We started by targeting campus libraries.


We brought folding chairs… literally!

Recognizing that chairs were symbols of power, we placed folding chairs throughout the campus and invited students to discuss feelings of belonging and marginalization.


Design Thinking…

Then launched a series of design workshops to train students in design thinking methods that would creatively engage students to proactively assess and change campus culture and climate in ways that enhance a sense of belonging for minoritized students.


Complex Challenges…

As the students evolved the projects become more ambitious as students began to question their relationship with the nearby neighborhood of Harlem. Bridging campus and community, students applied design thinking to a series of challenges, with the goal to empower all who are historically threatened with physical or symbolic displacement.


Our Contribution

We make space for change by providing opportunities for unlikely practitioners to practice design thinking for public interest & to solve real-world problems in our community. We provide visible solutions through visual campaigns and believe development does NOT equal displacement. Those closest to the problem not only SEE the solution but can and want to BE the solution!


#OurKidsRead Harlem

This summer educators & designers use community based design to talk about the library and literacy gap in Harlem @NYCHA Grant Houses

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#Share #Swap #Gift:

We take on health after our co-founder lost the use of her kidneys, the team designed a kidney health and organ donation campaign

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Our latest public interest design project applies a bottom-up approach to civic education as we learn more about how neighborhoods preserve their culture & legacy.

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#B.Y.O.Chair Macy Gallery

Learn how one typical campus fine arts gallery became transformed by community based design into a space for students to talk about campus belonging.

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