Through educational workshops, technical assistance, and cooperative design projects, the Behavioral Design Center helps non-profits based in New York City identify and ameliorate behavioral barriers that emerge in service delivery, with a particular focus on alleviating poverty and enhancing civic engagement. Center staff guides practitioners and program managers in applying insights and techniques from behavioral science to increase the utilization of their services and improve outcomes for the people they serve. The Center also offers virtual workshops for a national audience.

We know there is often a gap between people’s intentions and actions—perhaps they intend to use a non-profit’s program or service but don’t follow through, don’t realize they are eligible for certain benefits, or have misconceptions about what’s possible or expected in a particular context. Applying a behavioral lens can help agencies address these issues, and in doing so make good programs even more effective—enabling them to help more people.


Behavioral Design Center

Office Hours


Project Assistance


Join Our Listserv



We investigated the behavioral barriers limiting older adults’ participation in activities offered remotely, and suggested strategies to mitigate those barriers and increase engagement. View project brief.


This project focused on developing a client survey for the FASTEN (Funds and Services for Tenants Experiencing Need) eviction prevention program, with the aim of maximizing responses and their value in informing program design and service delivery. View project brief.


We will focus on enhancing staff effectiveness in engaging clients in support groups and activities that have proven valuable to participants.


The project will identify behavioral barriers limiting responsive actions to CCC's Take Action emails, and recommend re-design.


This project focused on identifying and mitigating behavioral barriers that discourage prospective volunteers from applying and following through to become Big Brothers. View project brief.


We created a flyer and advised CFA  on outreach strategies to inform NYC students and their families about the new Pandemic EBT benefits. We also identified barriers to school lunch participation and offered guidance on how to mitigate them. View project brief.


We examined factors limiting enrollment in HSC’s disaster response alert system, and recommended strategies to clarify the purpose and value of the system and expand participation. View project brief.


Based on our analysis of behavioral barriers that can discourage 17-24 year-olds from applying to Per Scholas’s free technology training programs, we designed sample outreach messages and recommended other changes to more effectively engage these young people. View project brief.

Read about our completed partner engagements and projects below.

We’re eager to work with organizations to apply a behavioral lens to program and service design. Through the Behavioral Design Center, we hope to spread these behavioral insights further and help more New Yorkers benefit from beneficial programs. We’re accepting more requests for assistance from non-profits interested in applying behavioral insights to existing or new programs: you can find information here. The NYC Behavioral Design Center was created with initial support from the W. T. Grant Foundation, The New York Community Trust, and the Booth Ferris Foundation. The Center currently operates with funding from The New York Community Trust, the Pinkerton Foundation, and Fidelity Charitable.