Case Study

Launch for
Evanston Cradle to Career

Evanston Cradle to Career is committed to the idea that every child deserves a path to a fulfilling, productive life. Soon after its birth, we guided EC2C’s brand launch.

EC2C was founded as a partnership of Evanston schools, nonprofits, businesses, and faith-based institutions. 27 organizations had already signed on to the initiative when we first met with representatives from 10 of the partner organizations.

Our kickoff with the partners clarified both the ambitious goals of the initiative and the many challenges inherent in orchestrating a collective impact effort.

The top brand-building priority for the partners was to nurture acceptance within the community. We needed to engage Evanston parents, teachers, and faith leaders—building familiarity with EC2C and gaining their trust in the initiative. 

As a first step, we asked to meet with members of the community who might be either beneficiaries of the partnership’s effort (e.g., students and parents) or prospects for engagement or volunteerism (e.g., teachers and other mentors).

The workshop, which included 6 youth and 7 adults (including parents and other mentors), resulted in an impassioned discussion of many difficult topics. The community of Evanston was already beginning to tackle long-simmering issues, including racial and socioeconomic inequities. Improving the prospects of Evanston children, as it turned out, was a key area of consensus. 

Hearing first-hand what mattered most to a diverse array of residents helped focus our thoughts on prioritizing key themes, messaging to multiple audiences within Evanston, and encouraging community engagement. The insights we gained from that workshop were critical to developing our branding and messaging recommendations. 

Perhaps the most potent symbol of our EC2C brand strategy was captured on the home page of their new website, where we featured a portrait series of over 160 Evanston youth ranging in age from 2 to 18, representing both the community’s diversity and the collective nature of the effort.

The photo shoot was unlike any we’ve undertaken before, averaging about 16 portraits per hour. To sweeten the deal for the teachers and the kids who participated, we printed the best shot of each on a portable dye-sub printer so that every subject could walk out of the shoot with a professional 4x6 portrait. With the exception of one or two bashful youngsters, everyone loved the opportunity to hop on a stool and shine for the camera. The resulting procession of portraits is an amazing way to meet the future of Evanston.

EC2C has grown considerably since our brand launch, now with more than 40 formal partners.


Messaging, web design