Storify: CreateAthon 2014

FAAAC: A closer look at African American art

An affiliate of the Columbia Museum of Art, The Friends of African American Art & Culture provides supplemental member benefits focused around a deep dive into African American arts. Offering artist home tours, specialty exhibits, group trips and more, the organization bridges ethnicity and age while fostering appreciation for the cultural contributions of African American artists.

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For CreateAthon this year, we’ll be working to help by developing marketing strategies, re-crafting web messaging, and designing support collateral.

DREAMCON: Advancing the digital arts

DREAMCON is an event coming to Columbia, SC to promote the world of digital art. What is digital art? Simply, digital art is the use of technology towards an artistic product, be it static (pictures), dynamic (animation), or interactive (games).

Playing card graphics? Digital art.

3D-Printing? Digital art.

Movie effects? Digital art.

Video game environments? Digital art.

Practitioners abound and the supporting industry is huge, but community, awareness, and education around the craft is far less public. Enter DREAMCON.




Our work for DREAMCON during CreateAthon will spring from three objectives:

1) Establish a brand architecture.

2) Craft a visual identity.

3) Recruit competition entries.


WXRY-FM: Amplifying the Voices of Our Community

I’ll never forget the day that WXRY (FM 99.3) came on the air. They had been promoting the station for a few weeks in print ads that billed this new listening option as “The Independent Alternative.” They caught my attention with the assertion that this was the music that my generation listened to in college (i.e. early to mid 1990s).

Considering that WXRY launched on St. Patrick’s Day with a 24-hour marathon of only music by Irish rock band U2 (my personal favorite), it seems appropriate that the station is now a client of the 24-hour pro bono marathon that is CreateAthon.

What many people didn’t realize when it first began, and some may still not know, is that WXRY is an independent, nonprofit, public radio station. When you hear “public radio,” you more often think of NPR or a university-owned radio station. In fact, according to WXRY’s President and General Manager Steve Varholy, nonprofit public radio is the fastest growing segment of radio because of the quality and independence of the programming. They have the freedom to play what they want to play when they want to play it.

WXRY is owned by The Independent Media Foundation, a local 501(c)(3) foundation, and it is programmed by a small staff of professionals and volunteers who are longtime residents of the Columbia area. In a landscape that is increasing dominated by corporate-owned media conglomerates, it is refreshing to have a truly local voice in town, especially one that is committed to the community and not to shareholders.

Naomi Sargent of Columbia Opportunity Resource during a taping of The Buzz, one of WXRY's regular segments promoting community activities and involvement.

Naomi Sargent of Columbia Opportunity Resource during a taping of The Buzz, one of WXRY’s regular segments promoting community activities and involvement.

WXRY’s business model is completely different from any other radio station in town, and intentionally so. Their mission is “great radio that builds and serves your community.” Their goal is to get real community voices on the air and to serve as a catalyst for growth and renewal in the Columbia area by shining a light on all of the great things that are happening in our city.

Our work for WXRY during CreateAthon will focus on the development of materials to help them expand their FM frequencies and service area as well as build additional studio and office space. Meeting these goals will enable the station to continue to increase its engagement not only on the air, but also in person.

During CreateAthon, just as I do every other day, I’ll be streaming at my desk and rocking out to the best alternative tunes of yesterday and today, knowing that by supporting this nonprofit media outlet, I’m also supporting all of the other nonprofits in my community whose voices they amplify.

Columbia Urban League: Creating a culture of high expectations

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, more than 400,000 children are currently in foster care. While foster homes can and do provide a safe haven for many children who cannot remain with their birth parents, it’s no surprise that today’s youth in foster care can face numerous challenges.

Columbia Urban League has been doing its part to provide a constant and stable environment for youth in foster care through their Youth Leadership Development Institute (YLDI) for more than 10 years. Focusing on students in foster care aged 14-19, YLDI helps these teens transition to self-reliant adults and productive members of society. The nurturing and robust curriculum provides:

  • Individualized counseling
  • Career development
  • Summer work program
  • Independent living skills
  • College preparation
  • Job readiness training
  • Career 101 (Work Keys Certification Prep)
  • Empowerment workshops
  • Cultural activities
Job readiness training helps youth prepare for both employment and the work experience.

Job readiness training helps youth prepare for both employment and the work experience.

When we met with President and CEO James T. MacLawhorn and his YLDI staff to prep for CreateAthon, one thing was crystal clear: this team cares deeply and passionately for this program and the youth who participate in it. When asked why they find their work so meaningful, we heard some inspiring answers:

“Helping kids see their potential. That there’s something bigger and better than the space they are living in.” – Program Director Juanita Dean-Bates

“My passion is to see their lives change and transform, watch them grow, and give them hope again.” – Case Management Specialist Regina LaBrew

“We work with young people so they see the value within themselves. When they do that, they’ll put forth the effort.”  – President and CEO James T. MacLawhorn.

MacLawhorn also added that the primary focus of YLDI is to create a culture of high expectations. “From a programmatic perspective, we believe that when people have a vision of high expectations, they’ll prepare themselves.”

In just a few days, a CreateAthon team will have the privilege of helping to develop a marketing strategy and support collateral for YLDI, with the goal of boosting year-round and multi-year participation from students. We’re excited to play a role in lifting this worthy program and the youth it serves.

If you’re interested in learning more about YLDI, visit and be sure to follow along on Facebook and Twitter as we work CreateAthon magic for Columbia Urban League and seven other local nonprofits. CreateAthon kicks off at 8am Thursday, October 23 and can be found using the hashtags #RPCreateathon #CreateAthon and #PBW14.