Breakthrough Cincinnati Brochure and Video


Breakthrough Cincinnati is one of my favorite local non-profits. Beyond their incredible work with teenagers, I love that they're willing to spend time upfront on discovery processes before jumping hastily into design. We began our partnership two years ago with a workshop, and each year, we try different approaches to finding inspiration for design and communications. This year, we began by interviewing donors to better understand what inspires them to invest. 

We found three primary influences. 

  1. A story of transformation in a student, teacher, or parent.

  2. People they know who also give to Breakthrough.

  3. An open house, or some other type of Breakthrough event that includes storytelling.

Based on that information, we decided to focus 2019 on the stories of students, parents of students, teaching fellows, donors, and Breakthrough Cincinnati Board Members. Specifically, we were looking for “after Breakthrough…” moments. Meaning, stories of transformation because of Breakthrough. In other words, our goal was to share how students have discovered their full potential and how the education system and local economy is better as a result.

Breakthrough Conversation Cards

Breakthrough Conversation Cards

Rather than email or interview people one on one, we decided to invite two or three people at a time to have a conversation about their Breakthrough experience. The discussion cards above (with help from Joey Taylor and inspired by Bespoken Live) were made to spark conversations. Out talented friends and partners at Iron House Studios captured the audio and video. It was a little scary not knowing the outcome in advance, but because the conversations were emotionally moving, we were optimistic it would all come together.

In the end, we transcribed the interviews, pulled the most powerful quotes, and made a print piece full of content directly from the Breakthrough community. Additionally, the team at Iron House wove together a compelling video that captures Breakthrough's story (above). It’s too soon share the results of these "pitch pieces." But, with annual appeal season around the corner, I'm excited to see how these new tools will help the Breakthrough Board tell their incredible story and spur more support.

If you made it this far, read the article, and watch the video, that must mean you’re interested. Would you consider making a donation to Breakthrough? It's super easy. Hop on over to