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MICA and T. Rowe Price partner to host fifth annual Grassroots DesignFest to bring together local nonprofits, designers, students

Baltimore— On March 5, 2022, Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) and T. Rowe Price, the Baltimore-based global investment manager, will host the fifth annual Grassroots DesignFest, matching local art, design and business students and professionals with Baltimore-area nonprofits to create branding concepts, logo designs, graphic identities, and other design projects at no cost.

Over the last four years, more than 65 nonprofits have participated, including PIVOT Baltimore— an organization that connects women released from the corrections system with critical services needed to reclaim their lives, rejoin their families and reinvigorate their communities— who was in need of a new brand identity and logo to better communicate its values to the public.

“Smaller nonprofit organizations often do not have the time or resources to engage professional designers to help them communicate and carry out their missions. DesignFest provides valuable, highly professional design expertise that has benefited nonprofits all over the city. It’s exciting to witness the impact of DesignFest on returning organizations like PIVOT over the years,” said Sheri Parks, vice president of Strategic Initiatives at MICA.

“From our very first introductions, we were struck by our team’s talent, passion, and care for our cause,” said Emily Thompson, co-founder of PIVOT Baltimore. “Working with a professional team allowed us to bring to life a logo and branding design that really captured the essence of our organization’s mission and values and present a cohesive image that brings warmth to our brand. We are looking forward to returning this year to expand on that work and apply those designs to an updated website.”

To see some of the outcomes from this annual event, Baltimore residents need not look any further than local bus stops. In 2020, Made in Baltimore participated in DesignFest to create a new advertising campaign, which was run on bus shelters around the city.

The nonprofit participants for this year’s event will continue to work on issues related to arts and culture, education, human services, and social justice and, in addition to PIVOT Baltimore, include: 29th Street Community Center Inc., Advancing Real Change, Inc., Ballet After Dark, Baltimore Concert Opera, Baltimore Jewelry Center, Baltimore Witness, Baltimore Youth Arts, BARCO Motor House, Business Volunteers Maryland, Centro de los Derechos del Migrante, Inc., Chesapeake Youth Symphony Orchestra, Children’s Chorus of Maryland, Citizens Policing Project, Community Wealth Builders, Corner Team, Inc., DewMore Baltimore, Liberty Village Project, Maryland Consumer Rights Coalition, New Song Community Learning Center, Open Works, Patterson Park Public Charter School, Inc., PREPARE, Reading Partners, Riverside Neighborhood Association, Star-Spangled Banner Flag House, STEM Champions of Baltimore, The People’s Commission to Decriminalize MD, The Women’s Law Center of Maryland, and Weekend Backpacks for Homeless Kids, Inc.

This year’s event, which takes place virtually, will bring together more than 20 nonprofits and more than 100 designers, including undergraduate and graduate students from 11 colleges and universities as well as participants from across the country.

The T. Rowe Price Foundation conceived the idea for DesignFest by taking the “hackathon” model and applying it to an event that would engage the creative community and nonprofits here in Baltimore.

“It’s more important than ever for nonprofits to be able to effectively communicate their mission and purpose in today’s noisy landscape and to fundraise amidst the continued impact of the pandemic,” said John Brothers, president of the T. Rowe Price Foundation. “We’re excited to see the results of previous DesignFests in the community. It’s a great example of how business can partner with academia to support the community and provide learning opportunities for students and workplace talent.”

Participating students will gain firsthand experience collaborating with professionals, working with clients and gaining insights on the nonprofit sector. This year, students come from MICA, Bowie State University, California College of the Arts, Johns Hopkins University, Loyola University, Morgan State University, Stevenson University, Towson University, UMBC, University of Baltimore, and University of South Carolina.  

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