An affiliate of the Columbia Museum of Art, The Friends of African American Art & Culture provides supplemental member benefits focused around a deep dive into African American arts. Offering artist home tours, specialty exhibits, group trips and more, the organization bridges ethnicity and age while fostering appreciation for the cultural contributions of African American artists.
For CreateAthon this year, we'll be working to help by developing marketing strategies, re-crafting web messaging, and designing support collateral.
DREAMCON is an event coming to Columbia, SC to promote the world of digital art. What is digital art? Simply, digital art is the use of technology towards an artistic product, be it static (pictures), dynamic (animation), or interactive (games).
Playing card graphics? Digital art.
3D-Printing? Digital art.
Movie effects? Digital art.
Video game environments? Digital art.
Practitioners abound and the supporting industry is huge, but community, awareness, and education around the craft is far less public. Enter DREAMCON.
Our work for DREAMCON during CreateAthon will spring from three objectives:
1) Establish a brand architecture.
2) Craft a visual identity.
3) Recruit competition entries.
I’ll never forget the day that WXRY (FM 99.3) came on the air. They had been promoting the station for a few weeks in print ads that billed this new listening option as “The Independent Alternative.” They caught my attention with the assertion that this was the music that my generation listened to in college (i.e. early to mid 1990s).
Considering that WXRY launched on St. Patrick’s Day with a 24-hour marathon of only music by Irish rock band U2 (my personal favorite), it seems appropriate that the station is now a client of the 24-hour pro bono marathon that is CreateAthon.
What many people didn’t realize when it first began, and some may still not know, is that WXRY is an independent, nonprofit, public radio station. When you hear “public radio,” you more often think of NPR or a university-owned radio station. In fact, according to WXRY’s President and General Manager Steve Varholy, nonprofit public radio is the fastest growing segment of radio because of the quality and independence of the programming. They have the freedom to play what they want to play when they want to play it.
WXRY is owned by The Independent Media Foundation, a local 501(c)(3) foundation, and it is programmed by a small staff of professionals and volunteers who are longtime residents of the Columbia area. In a landscape that is increasing dominated by corporate-owned media conglomerates, it is refreshing to have a truly local voice in town, especially one that is committed to the community and not to shareholders.
WXRY’s business model is completely different from any other radio station in town, and intentionally so. Their mission is “great radio that builds and serves your community.” Their goal is to get real community voices on the air and to serve as a catalyst for growth and renewal in the Columbia area by shining a light on all of the great things that are happening in our city.
Our work for WXRY during CreateAthon will focus on the development of materials to help them expand their FM frequencies and service area as well as build additional studio and office space. Meeting these goals will enable the station to continue to increase its engagement not only on the air, but also in person.
During CreateAthon, just as I do every other day, I’ll be streaming www.wxryfm.org at my desk and rocking out to the best alternative tunes of yesterday and today, knowing that by supporting this nonprofit media outlet, I’m also supporting all of the other nonprofits in my community whose voices they amplify.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, more than 400,000 children are currently in foster care. While foster homes can and do provide a safe haven for many children who cannot remain with their birth parents, it’s no surprise that today’s youth in foster care can face numerous challenges.
Columbia Urban League has been doing its part to provide a constant and stable environment for youth in foster care through their Youth Leadership Development Institute (YLDI) for more than 10 years. Focusing on students in foster care aged 14-19, YLDI helps these teens transition to self-reliant adults and productive members of society. The nurturing and robust curriculum provides:
- Individualized counseling
- Career development
- Summer work program
- Independent living skills
- College preparation
- Job readiness training
- Career 101 (Work Keys Certification Prep)
- Empowerment workshops
- Cultural activities
When we met with President and CEO James T. MacLawhorn and his YLDI staff to prep for CreateAthon, one thing was crystal clear: this team cares deeply and passionately for this program and the youth who participate in it. When asked why they find their work so meaningful, we heard some inspiring answers:
“Helping kids see their potential. That there’s something bigger and better than the space they are living in.” - Program Director Juanita Dean-Bates
“My passion is to see their lives change and transform, watch them grow, and give them hope again.” - Case Management Specialist Regina LaBrew
“We work with young people so they see the value within themselves. When they do that, they’ll put forth the effort.” - President and CEO James T. MacLawhorn.
MacLawhorn also added that the primary focus of YLDI is to create a culture of high expectations. “From a programmatic perspective, we believe that when people have a vision of high expectations, they’ll prepare themselves.”
In just a few days, a CreateAthon team will have the privilege of helping to develop a marketing strategy and support collateral for YLDI, with the goal of boosting year-round and multi-year participation from students. We’re excited to play a role in lifting this worthy program and the youth it serves.
If you’re interested in learning more about YLDI, visit http://www.columbiaurbanleague.org/ and be sure to follow along on Facebook and Twitter as we work CreateAthon magic for Columbia Urban League and seven other local nonprofits. CreateAthon kicks off at 8am Thursday, October 23 and can be found using the hashtags #RPCreateathon #CreateAthon and #PBW14.
According to the most recent Census data, 1 in 8 Americans (13% of the population) are 65 or older. This is projected to grow to 1 in 5 (19.3%) by 2030, the year all members of the Baby Boomer generation will have turned 65. By 2050, seniors will make up 25% of the population.
Staggering numbers, to be sure, with a significant projected impact on the US economy, healthcare system, housing market, and all manner of other areas that affect quality of life for Americans. Perhaps the more profound consideration is the impact the “silver tsunami” already is having on individuals; older, often fragile adults who increasingly find themselves making difficult choices: food vs. prescriptions; heating bills vs. transportation; dental care vs. pet care.
It’s the type of perfect storm Sustaining Our Seniors of South Carolina is seeking to manage. This new nonprofit will serve as an intermediary designed to connect interested volunteers and financial supporters to qualified senior-serving organizations throughout the state.
“Senior citizens and vulnerable adults need a champion,” said Coretta Bedsole, president of Sustaining Our Seniors board of directors. “We want to be that champion by identifying resources, information, guidance and service options to improve their quality of life.”
Connecting people to organizations in the way of donations, hands-on service, and skills-based volunteerism can help build capacity for the many senior service programs already in existence throughout South Carolina. Leaders from Sustaining Our Seniors are quick to point out the organization is not designed to replicate services, but to help build scale behind those services in a way that will enable them to deliver even more assistance to South Carolina seniors.
The RP CreateAthon team has the privilege of helping this organization develop foundational strategies such as product design, organizational development, and brand marketing. We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to work with an organization from the ground up, and look forward to helping this organization connect people with a heart for seniors to opportunities for service and support.
As the city’s “unofficial” office of cultural affairs, One Columbia’s mission is to strengthen and unify the arts community with an ultimate goal of attracting more visitors to events and activities. They do this through a number of high profile projects like public art and the Cultural Passport. But, they haven’t stopped here.
The idea behind Film Columbia is to create a video library of art events and activities that groups can use to promote their own endeavors. It works like this: One Columbia hires emerging and established local filmmakers to shoot video of cultural events that take place in the city (most artists cannot afford to do this on their own). The filmmakers edit the footage into shorts videos that can be used to market various events, festivals, gallery openings, performances and lots of other happenings. Attendance goes up, artists are happy and Columbia is better known for its robust arts scene!
With several videos completed, it’s time to take the initiative to the next level. That’s where CreateAthon can help. One Columbia already has a good foundation from which to build—a strong visual identity, a great website and an even better digital newsletter. The challenge is carving out space for Film Columbia within the One Columbia brand and increasing awareness among local artists of the free service. CreateAthon deliverables will include positioning, marketing planning and collateral. With the right tools in place, Film Columbia will be ready for its big premiere!
We’ve seen our fair share of great youth programs over the past 17 years of CreateAthon. This year, we’re pleased to have discovered yet another program that offers a positive experience for kids: Y Guides. Founded in 1926 by Harold Keitner, Director of the YMCA in St. Louis, Y Guides is dedicated to forging bonds between fathers and their children through dedicated time together and specific activities designed especially for them.
Inspired by Native American culture, dads and their kids form tribes and get together on a monthly basis to enjoy activities ranging from arts, crafts and outdoor exploration to discovering local, family-friendly attractions. These individual tribes combine to form a larger federation and gather from time to time for signature events such as campouts and other excursions.
Chris Miller, as Nation Chief, leads the dads in the local Three Rivers Federation. He has been involved in Y Guides for several years with his two daughters, Eva (9) and Helen (7). “I did Y Guides with my dad as a kid, and it was something really special between the two of us. It’s time that’s set aside just for dads and their kids — no relying on moms, no dropping off with other leaders. Dads are 100% responsible for the programs and for time spent with their children. I’m thankful for this time that I have with my girls, and my greatest hope is that we can make the kind of memories together that I did with my dad. I can’t imagine a greater gift than that.”
As well-established as the Y Guide program is, Chris tells us that participation in the Midlands is at an all-time low. “That’s why we applied to CreateAthon,” he said. “We know the program is growing in other similar markets, but for some reason it has dwindled here. There’s also research that shows the positive impact Y Guides has on young boys and girls as they grow. So we need to turn this enrollment trend around, and we know the CreateAthon team can help us do that.”
If you’re interested in learning more about Y Guides, help out now by spreading the word about this wonderful program for dads and their children. In the meantime, be on the lookout for more news about Y Guides and the work we’ll be doing for them during CreateAthon next Thursday, October 23. While you’re at it, check out all the national CreateAthon action that’ll be taking place next week as part of international Pro Bono Week. As an official Pro Bono Week partner, CreateAthon is bringing together 14 groups across the country that are hosting CreateAthon events next week. We couldn’t be more pleased!
I feel so energetic just being here.
I’m bowled over by their passion and thoughtfulness.
It’s already more than I ever imagined.
This was the take from Natalie Allen, founder of the Arts Empowerment Project in Charlotte, NC, in a post-briefing-meeting interview with our friends from GreyHawk Films. These generous folks were on hand to capture initial footage for a short film that will chronicle the CreateAthon experience from a nonprofit organization’s point of view. Not surprisingly, we chose to capture the briefing meeting as the nonprofit organization’s first official encounter with the CreateAthon model. We were also interested in getting Natalie’s immediate response coming out of that meeting.
“I’d heard about CreateAthon, and knew the program could be effective in helping us shape our brand strategy,” said Natalie. “But I was not expecting the depth of insightful questioning, from the need we meet in the market, to how we deliver our services and how we’re funded. I can already see that this process will facilitate a great deal more for us than developing marketing messages.”
We’re totally in awe of the Arts Empowerment Project, which is dedicated to helping at-risk children see new opportunities for their lives as a result of being exposed to the arts. Our CreateAthon team plans to address brand strategy, development strategy, and specific marketing and communications tactics to help the organization build scale behind its efforts.
Natalie tells us she fully recognizes the need for nonprofits to have clarity around their brand. “With information at our fingertips all the time, you really have to capture someone’s attention immediately,” she said. “I’m thrilled to have this team of professionals helping us translate what we’re all about, in a way that inspires people to respond to our cause.”
She adds that the CreateAthon experience is well timed for her organization. “Like so many young nonprofits, we were faced with the challenge of putting all of our upfront resources into program development versus investing in brand strategy and communications,” said Natalie. “We know that both are equally important, and the gift of these marketing services through CreateAthon will take our program to the next level. We feel honored to be here, and to have been selected by the people at Riggs Partners who started the whole concept of CreateAthon.”
Telling the story of how young people can redefine their lives through the arts? The honor is all ours.
Stay tuned for more on the Arts Empowerment Program and their journey through CreateAthon, as it all unfolds during Pro Bono Week 2014.