How a 24 Hour Design-A-Thon Benefited a Nashville Non-Profit
Back in March at SxSW Interactive, Jeff Pulver suggested I reach out to a local Nashville guy, Andy Dixon. Jeff went on to tell me a brief summary of Andy’s background and that he had spoken at Jeff’s #140 Conf in NYC. I contacted Andy when I returned to Nashville and asked him to meet me for breakfast and offered to see what the community could do to help his non-profit, which at that time, didn’t have a brand identity and was unknown.
Long story short, my friend Ian Rhett and I talked to Andy for 4 hours one morning, which was followed by Ian and I attending a board meeting that night. After spending so much time with Andy, we decided to call upon the marketing, design and development community to help this little 24 year old Nashville non-profit known as, Reconciliation. Combining geek forces in Nashville is easy because the environment is such that, everyone truly loves to collaborate and with annual events such as PodCamp and BarCamp, keeps the technology community united.
We decided to host a 24 hr design event that would provide Andy with a call to action when he presents at future conferences and shares his story with the world. Andy was incarcerated for 27 years and originally, was to be in prison for life without parole. It was due to an illegal
sentence and his determination that it was overturned and he got out in 2005. When Andy went into prison, the world was without microwaves. Andy changed his life while in prison and once released dedicated it to helping children of the incarcerated break the cycle of generational incarceration.
The statistics say between 50-70% of children with an incarcerated parent will follow their parents to prison. This statistic can easily be changed with the right mentoring, counseling and peer-to-peer connections children create when they’re younger so they don’t grow up to to be burdens on society.
Few people know this, but I was raised by my grandparents because my mother had me when she was only 20 years old and preoccupied with partying….this partying was a life of addiction and often put her in trouble with the law. I love my mother because she is my mother and she is clean, sober and living a solid life now but without the guidance of my grandparents, I’m 100% certain I would have followed in her footsteps. I don’t look down on people because of what I have witnessed first hand, I have seen it all. People say that but truly haven’t lived it. I have. Betcha didn’t know that. I’m not asking for sympathy but I’m telling you I am the exception. Other kids aren’t because they don’t have guidance. Kids internalize a lot of the confusion and pain and turn it into anger because they don’t know any better, I know this because I was one of them.
Okay, back to the story at hand….Andy was lacking a strong website that really engaged a potential donor, volunteer or just someone who wanted to learn more about this National issue. So, he wished for it and we delivered. After 24 hours with the help of 32-ish volunteers, incredible sponsors and little to no sleep, we gave Andy and his new non-profit known as YouthTurns, a new website, logo and marketing strategy for his mission to end generational incarceration.
I really don’t think an event like this could have been pulled off as easily outside of Nashville and I am humbled by the amount of compassion and volunteerism that exists in one little city. I, unfortunately, had to pull of a move to Chicago on the tail end of this 24 hour design-a-thon so I left the more than capable web developers, designers, copywriters, marketers with plenty of food and caffeine before I left.
Our deliverables were,
Create the identity of what now is YouthTurns.com
All site copy
Business cards, letterheads, newsletter design
New site developed in Drupal
Emma E-Mail Marketing Template Design/Acc’t (donated by Emma)
All time, materials and tools were donated by volunteers & sponsors.
You can view the site yourself at YouthTurns.com