Classwork for a Cause

By designing campaigns for local nonprofits, a group of graphic design majors honed their craft while leveraging their skills for the greater good.

Classwork for a Cause Photo by Terry Slater
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There’s just something special about Endicott’s Junior Graphic Design Studio course. 

Part of it is the range of projects that graphic design students complete—mostly in their junior year. (Their portfolio includes everything from sports branding to graphic design for an arts and music festival to packaging design for Whole Foods products.)

Another factor is the impressive amount of work that the students walk away with after just one semester. (According to Associate Professor Juan Carlos Morales, it’s second only to the senior capstone.)

And there’s one more element: Just as the students are learning valuable real-world skills, they’re giving back to the local community at the same time, too. 

That’s because the course curriculum includes the opportunity for students to partner with local nonprofits to lend their design skills to help advance worthy causes. This semester’s clients included the Community Preservation Act for the Town of Danvers, North Shore Pride, and Gifts that Matter, an organization that provides financial support for essential items to children and families in need in the North Shore area. 

While most students build resumes and portfolios through internship opportunities, Morales said the inclusion of these project-based collaborations with local nonprofits is intentional and in line with the Endicott ethos.

Classwork for a Cause

“I often tell students that our industry doesn’t just need better designers, it needs better people,” he said. “We’re skilled in the art of persuasion through design. And that’s really a superpower you want to leverage for good.” 

The project began with a class during which members of the nonprofits introduced themselves, their organizations, and their design needs to the students via Zoom. The students then chose the organization they wanted to partner with, working in three- and four-person teams. 

Payton Grenier ’24 worked with Gifts that Matter. “I chose the organization because I really connected with the founder, Marian Myers, and her values,” she said. “It was important to me that I felt passionate about the work.” 

North Shore Pride caught the eye of Kaitlin Marino ’24. “I wanted to take on the challenge of working with a group that was making an impact on a large community,” said Marino, who is also a graphic design intern for Endicott alum Mya Kermelewicz ’21 M’22, an advocate for ending relationship abuse. 

The Danvers Community Preservation Act particularly appealed to Emily Reedy ’24. “When we started, the organization only had a logo and a Facebook page,” she said. “I liked the idea of partnering with a group that didn’t already have a design background.”

Next up was a brainstorming session, after which the students presented their ideas to their clients. With their stamp of approval, the students then got to work on their design projects. 

Each organization had its own goals for the partnership. The Gifts that Matter team created designs for a gala event in June. 

“The event’s theme is ‘the butterfly effect,’” said Grenier. “We created Instagram posts, a photo backdrop, video, name cards, and table numbers. We also made butterfly note cards for each table that told a different story about someone impacted by the organization. The cards also had a QR code so that guests could scan it and donate to the organization right from their phone.”

The North Shore Pride team’s work also was event-based. 

“The client requested a program booklet cover design and t-shirt for a Pride event in June,” said Marino. “Their theme is ‘Proud to Be Me,’ and we designed stickers, two versions of a banner, and held a photo shoot with Endicott students where they held up signs filled in with the identity they were proud to be. The photos were turned into a video montage with people holding the signs.”

For the Danvers Community Preservation Act, the students created graphic design assets to support a general awareness campaign.

“The organization needed digestible designs that would get the right message across quickly,” said Reedy. “We created social media posts, posters, infographics, a postcard, and their logo.”

Particularly remarkable is the timeline for the students’ work—they were introduced to the clients, brainstormed and presented their ideas, and completed the projects within just two weeks. 

Morales noted that the students gained more from the experience than simply an opportunity to hone their design skills.   

“They learn about the organization’s mission, their pain points, and then the students decide, ‘Here is what we need to do to help this organization,’” said Morales. “And sometimes that process is just as important as being given content and direction.”

He continued: “When an employer asks them about their portfolio, they don’t get to just talk about a pretty picture they made; there’s a whole other process that happens before that. Firms are looking for those kinds of differentiating skills.”

The end result of all of the students’ hard work was a trio of very happy clients. 

“Our organization was so surprised and excited about the quality and amount of work we did for them,” said Reedy. “And that was the case for every group. All of the organizations loved it.” 

In Pictures
Graphic design majors Amanda DiMartinis ’24, Kaitlin Marino ’24, Emma Purple ’24, and Samantha Jaworski ’24 worked on the team for North Shore Pride.
In Pictures
As part of their project with North Shore Pride, the students asked people to proclaim their pride for their sexuality, allyship, and, in this case, pride for their profession from Associate Professor of Graphic Design Juan Carlos Morales.
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A banner the group created for North Shore Pride.
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The group also designed a North Shore Pride hat.
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Katilin Marino ’24 and Emma Purple ’24 celebrating Pride.
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Alexandra Palermo ’24 presents ideas for the Community Preservation Act (CPA) for the nearby town of Danvers. The CPA is a state-matching grant program that supports open space, historic preservation, community housing, and recreation projects.
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Alexandra Palermo ’24, Emily Reedy ’24, and Ashlyn Rice ’24 created a social media campaign for the Community Preservation Act.
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Part of the social media campaign for the Community Preservation Act.
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Tess Longley, Payton Grenier, Jacqueline Morris, and Emily Kormos worked with Gifts that Matter, a nonprofit organization that supports children and families in need when they face unexpected challenges.
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The group created assets for an upcoming fundraiser for Gifts that Matter. The group also used motion graphics to make the butterfly motif fly.
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Students working with Gifts that Matter presenting their concepts to the organization and the class.