Summer break was always the best part of the school year.
It shouldn't be too difficult to figure out why—I didn't have to be stuck in a classroom. School wasn’t all that interesting to me back then; it mostly just stressed me out. I felt like I thrived most through the freedom the summer offered. I could do whatever I wanted: play baseball, video game marathons, adventures with my friends around the neighborhood—not to mention the much-anticipated family beach vacation. Looking back, I can see how fortunate it was to have those endless options during the summertime, because not every student has access to the same privileges that I did. For some students, having a summer off means a lack of creative possibilities—or in a word: boredom. And when kids get bored, they can get into trouble. They're meant to run wild, explore their neighborhood, and enjoy the seemingly endless energy that accompanies summer days, but sometimes it can be a struggle to properly channel that enthusiasm into constructive things.
Enter Breakthrough Cincinnati (BTC). BTC offers a meaningful fix for those dull summer blues: a four year of summer school program for middle and high schoolers who haven't had the same opportunity for a memorable summer break. This program is decidedly different— it’s not that stale summer school classroom you were exiled to because of a non-passing grade in Geometry, but it’s more like a place you'd choose to hang out because you couldn't wait to see all of your friends gathered there.
Their six week summer program includes rigorous academics—but delivered in an enjoyable way, with the lesson plans taught by older high school and college student instructors. And it's not just about cruising through an academic curriculum either; it's full of fun. There's a pep rally held at BTC every single day. There's a variety of field trips to take students all over the city throughout the summer. Meals and transportation are even included.
Most importantly, after spending a summer at BTC, students are better equipped than their peers to return to school, ready to thrive. They're also more likely to graduate high school and pursue higher education.
BTC’s executive director, Julie Witten, approached us for their 2017 campaign. The focus of the annual drive is to raise funds for this year's upcoming summer programming. Since BTC is primarily funded through grants and donations, this campaign is the way they collect a large portion of their funds.
Our team facilitated a Mindful Brand Workshop (example results pictured above) to kick off the annual campaign project. With BTC's newly-installed director, and our team being newly acquainted with BTC, it was an incredibly helpful process for achieving a more complex understanding of their purpose and design. Julie, two BTC staff, a board member, and a parent of two BTC students participated in the workshop.
Numerous insights were gleaned from our workshop. The kernel that emerged and influenced the campaign's direction the most was the idea that BTC gives a boost to students who really need one. Likewise, the paradoxical nature of BTC being both strenuous and fun. Combined, those thoughts led to the campaign's language, “Push Play for...” The word “Push” noted the strenuous nature of BTC, and “Play” reminded us that BTC is fun and exciting. Additionally, "play" is the foil to "pause", which might be used to characterize a student's summer with a lack of options. The phrase “Push Play for...” is a call to action. It prompts donors to push play by generously donating funds that will activate BTC's mission and the students in its reach.
Annual campaign collateral consisted of a modest print mailer and a website overhaul (picture above). The workshop content also inspired a content refresh for grant writing and a robust social media campaign led by BTC’s staff.
The project succeeded beyond expectation. BTC broke their funding goal for the 2017 annual appeal campaign and raised more than any previous year.
Eli Mock, design assistance