PhilADthropy combines charity, academics

Courtesy School of Communication via Facebook
Courtesy School of Communication via Facebook
Photo courtesy School of Communication via Facebook

Amir Whitaker founded Project Knucklehead in 2012 to help high-risk youth focus on educational and cultural experiences, decreasing crime and delinquency. His project was one of the 16 nonprofits in the 2015 PhilADthropy event held Friday through Saturday at the School of Communication (SoC).

PhilADthropy, one of SoC’s biggest annual events, gathers hundreds of students to help rebrand nonprofit organizations over 25 hours. This year, over 130 students, faculty, alumni and volunteers worked to restore the nonprofits’ public image, social media and advertising campaigns.

“When I saw some of the other nonprofits, like Habitat for Humanity, I was a little afraid, because we’ve only been around for a few years,” Whitaker said.

Whitaker applied to participate as a nonprofit in PhilADthropy in 2014, but was not among the accepted organizations. After seeing this year’s results, Whitaker said  the wait was worth the while.

“I knew that the students were going to do something big and still, I just expected to get a brochure and some changes to the website,” he said. “But we got a new design, a new logo, and the way they packaged up our organization and put it into a concise message inspired me because it reminded me of why I do this … to help kids.”

The event began in 2010 when Professor Meryl Blau and faculty in UM’s advertising program wanted to bring the experience of working with a nonprofit to students.

“The idea of a 25-hour overnight is not new for an agency,” Blau said. “But in terms of the magnitude and the scale that this was created, this is something that was unique and different and something that we can own as a school and be really proud of.”

According to Blau, the event’s sixth installment was extremely successful.

Returning participants like senior Jamie Santucci agreed that this year’s event brought the best out of all of the working teams. By the time the clock struck midnight, many of the groups could already see the main parts of their campaigns become tangible.

“I am working with Habitat for Humanity, and we are finishing some copy for their new ads and working on a new brochure, so we’re really excited to see it all come together,” Santucci said as her team neared 14 hours of work. “We’re ahead of schedule right now, and this is my fourth year doing PhilADthropy, and it’s the only time I’ve ever been able to say that.”

The teams’ hard work and dedication paid off when their clients were surprised with the transformations.
        “I was moved to tears,” said Phillip Rincon, resource developer at the Church World Service immigrant and refugee resettlement program in South Florida. “I was not expecting anything of this caliber. To see the stories of the people we work with in the ads and give them such respect and dignity, it really moved me.”

As the 2015 annual PhilADthropy came to a close, Blau also reflected on the many successes of this experience, discussing her vision for the future of the event.

“I hope that we can continue to grow and offer the program to not only the students that go here, but also alumni and more departments within the school of communication, and just make it bigger and better,” Blau said.