Case Study

Strategic storytelling: 
After School Matters

Every year, After School Matters offers more than 15,000 Chicago teens safe haven and opportunity for growth through life-changing after-school and summer programs. We’re proud of our role in shaping and communicating their brand story.

Since 1991, After School Matters has been providing teenagers with spaces and opportunities for exploration and self-improvement. That can be life-changing, especially for kids growing up in neighborhoods plagued by gangs, drugs, and violence.

Founded by then‑Chicago First Lady Maggie Daley and Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs Commissioner Lois Weisberg, After School Matters is now the largest provider of after-school and summer programs (primarily in music, dance, art, and STEM) for high school students in the nation. 97% of After School Matters teens belong to a minority and 86% live at or below the federal poverty level.

Their programs have a huge impact. Teen attendance rates (87.6%) are well above the national standard (75%) for out-of-school time programs. Whereas 25% of students nationwide drop out of high school, 88% of After School Matters high school seniors completed their studies and graduated.

Over the years of our relationship, we collaborated with ASM on all their key communications and development efforts, including development of four annual reports and comprehensive event support and marketing for three galas, each of which raised in excess of $4 million.

We were especially honored to lead on creative direction for a major fundraising campaign. The seeds for the campaign had been sown with a significant major gift, but the campaign’s momentum hadn’t yet gathered sufficient steam for launch. Key issues in branding—including naming and messaging—had not been resolved.

We tackled these issues head on through interviews and workshops with over 20 stakeholders including executive leadership, members of both the Development and Communications teams, and several members of the board. These in-depth conversations provided the critical insights required for completion of the campaign’s case statement and brand strategy.

Once our recommendations for naming, positioning, and messaging were approved, we developed a wide array of campaign support tools, including the visual identity, a campaign book and carrier, a microsite, and a proposal template to launch the campaign.


Annual report

Gala save the date

Gala invitation

Signage at the Gala

Gala program book

Gala presentation visuals

Campaign materials carrier

Campaign book

Campaign microsite