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Project Re:form

Removing barriers to benefits by transforming the longest assistance application in America

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Michigan’s benefits application process was so complicated that it was failing residents and government workers alike

In partnership with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), Civilla launched Project Re:form to design a faster, simpler and more humane application for public benefit programs like food and healthcare. The previous application was the longest of its kind in America at over 40 pages – a formidable barrier for 2.5 million residents each year.

The Civilla team spent hundreds of hours conducting research to develop a deep understanding of the needs of residents and frontline staff. After launching a pilot in two offices to measure the impact of the redesign, Civilla reimagined the strategy for statewide implementation – training over 5000 field staff across 100 offices, aligning hundreds of stakeholders across the state, and securing the required federal approvals.

The process resulted in a beautiful, streamlined application that was 80% shorter and could be processed in nearly half the time. The work was recognized by Harvard University as one of the Top Innovations in American Government. It received two Core 77 Design Awards and a Gold Award in Design for Society by International Design Awards (IDA).

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