Funded! This project was successfully funded on November 7.


Brain Food is an exploratory creative activity deck for kids and a collaborative product by AIGA & The Right Brain Initiative.

Cover art by Sara Sjol
Cover art by Sara Sjol

Meet Brain Food

Brain Food is a tool that teachers and parents can use to ignite creative thinking in school or at home. It is an exploratory activity deck for kids. Each card in the 50-card deck combines easy-to-find materials, a school subject, and a unique exploratory activity. Activities integrate regular school subjects with an artistic approach, modeling the kind of whole-brain learning that The Right Brain Initiative promotes. With the Brain Food deck, kids create a choreographed dance out of sports moves; learn the art of subtractive poetry; make pop-up museums; and imagine their own food carts.

Brain Food is the result of a special partnership between AIGA Portland the professional association for designand The Right Brain Initiative. The Right Brain Initiative is a Portland non-profit program that believes the arts enhance every aspect of education from reading to critical thinking, social skills and motivation. The arts are woven throughout the curriculum as teachers and artists engage students in a creative process that integrates with other subjects. Their goal is to give every K-8 student in the region access to the arts regardless of neighborhood, language, or income.

Motivated by Right Brain's inspiring mission, AIGA Portland's team asked, "How can we help?". The result is this collaborative project that promotes a new vision of active and creative learning. Brain Food is about designers making real-life community change. We’re going beyond ideation and going into schools to make a real-life impact on the community.

Right Brain kids at Hayhurst in Southwest Portland immersed in the art of puppetry. Photo by Leah Verwey.
Right Brain kids at Hayhurst in Southwest Portland immersed in the art of puppetry. Photo by Leah Verwey.

Highlights of some Brain Food Activities:

1. Create a Native Tongue.

Invent your own language — It can be written, spoken, or physical. You can investigate one of the languages spoken on earth today, any one of many official sign languages in use, or even animal communication. Will your language have an alphabet for sounds or symbols for words? You get to make up all of your own rules. Create your own dictionary. What words have you included and what words were unnecessary?

2. Curate an Exhibition.

Make your own museum. Find or collect “artifacts” or works of art that are interesting to you. Some people collect shells, postcards, buttons, pictures, or figurines. Decide what you think is important about each artifact or work of art and make labels or signs to go with them. Arrange your objects or art in a special space, on walls, tables or surfaces where they look good to you. You can lead tours through your museum to talk about the objects with your visitors.

3. Design your Own Food Cart.

 Visit a neighborhood food cart pod for inspiration and observation. Once you have an idea for your own theme, draw a sketch of your food cart and create a logo sign and brand name. Next, create a menu with descriptions and prices for customers. Using a shoe box and found materials (buttons, cardboard, fabric, string, postcards, ribbons, paper) make a 3D model of your food cart.

More Brain Food highlights here.

Brain Food Cards
Brain Food Cards
Brain Food Cards
Brain Food Cards


Brain Food cards have been beautifully and originally designed by ten local illustrators, volunteering their time: Josh Balleza, Allison Berg, Halle Cisco, Melissa Egan, Jamie Letourneau, Forrest Martin, Sara Sjol, Jenny Tiffany, Tom O’Toole and Brooke Weeber.

The creators and designers have done great work in getting this project off the ground. Now we need your help. 

Our Goals

We want to give away Brain Food to 44 (and counting) Portland metro area public schools that Right Brain serves. We want to offer  Brain Food to every teacher within these schools, inspiring them to bring creativity into the learning process, and feel supported by the creative community.

We want to put Brain Food in your hands as a tool to inspire your kids or yourself (we all could use a little child-like discovery once in awhile).

We want to sell the decks in local Portland retail shops as an added funding stream and promotional tool for The Right Brain Initiative.

The Production Plan

We have design files 95% ready to go pending final editor review. With the money raised on Kickstarter, we plan to print 2,500 decks and pay to ship and distribute!

Our printing partner is B&B Print Source in Portland. We have received a generous paper donation by Hansol and the decks will be printed on Titan Dull 111# Cover provided by WCP Solutions. WCP is an amazing local partner, and a third generation Portland family company. We sincerely appreciate their generosity!

The Implementation Plan

Together we have a ready action plan for how to best introduce Brain Food to teachers and schools, sell locally and promote to a national AIGA audience.

Highlights of Right Brain Initiative's plan:

  • Provide order forms for free decks to all teachers in Right Brain partner school districts.

  • Provide online resources for educators and parents, including a Users Guide, local resources for obtaining project supplies, and platforms for Brain Food users to share how they have engaged with the activities and to interact with each other.

  • Encourage schools to use these activities at school evening events and get parents involved.

  • Give the decks to our parent advocates to help integrate the activities into the school building.

  • The hundreds of decks we don’t give away will be sold, creating a sustainable and ongoing revenue stream for Right Brain, supporting their work bringing creativity to 14,000 children in the 2013-14 school year.

AIGA Portland's Plan:

  • Record results and promote the project and its successes/failures to the national AIGA community through, AIGA Design for Good, and inspire the board leadership of 67 national chapters.

Thank you

Thank you for giving back to our youth, jump-starting future generations of designers and standing up for the arts.

Additional thanks to volunteers:
Design for Good team: Melissa Delzio, Brittany Hanson, Darren Cools, Tina Snow Le
Right Brain Initiative team: Kendra Yao, Rebecca Burrell
Videographer: Peter Hayden
Illustrators: Josh Balleza, Allison Berg, Halle Cisco, Melissa Egan, Jamie Letourneau, Forrest Martin, Sara Sjol, Jenny Tiffany, Tom O’Toole, Brooke Weeber

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

Our biggest challenge is fulfillment.

We will be ready for success with the volunteer power of two non-profit organizations at our fingerprints to help with collation, mailing and distribution.


Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.

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  • Pledge $10 or more
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    32 backers

    You'll receive a pdf download of Brain Food's 50-card deck, online recognition and project updates.

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  • Pledge $25 or more
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    110 backers

    You'll receive the $10 rewards plus you will be mailed one printed 50-card Brain Food deck and one will be donated to a Portland metro public school!

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  • Pledge $100 or more
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    12 backers Limited (8 left of 20)

    You'll receive the $25 rewards plus a custom line drawing portrait by Brain Food illustrator, Halle Cisco. Drawing could be of you, a family member or friend based on a photo you provide. Size 8"x10".

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  • Pledge $250 or more
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    3 backers

    You'll receive the $10 rewards plus you will be mailed TWO printed 50-card Brain Food decks. You will receive a letter with words of wisdom about life and art, written and illustrated by an elementary student, to be delivered straight to your mailbox every month for a year. Your name will be listed on the thank you page in the deck.

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  • Pledge $1,000 or more
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    0 backers Limited (7 left of 7)

    You'll receive the $10 rewards plus ten printed 50-card Brain Food decks. Your logo will be printed in all 2,500 decks. You will receive a personalized social media thank you from AIGA Portland and The Right Brain Initiative. A team from The Right Brain Initiative and AIGA Portland will facilitate a two-hour Brain Food Workshop for your staff or friends, including supplies. Ignite your group's creativity with a fun, exploratory, interactive workshop. (Limited to 20 people). 2014 date/times to be mutually agreed upon. Portland metro area only.

    Estimated delivery:
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Funding period

- (36 days)