February 19, 2019
Board Chair of College Bound Dorchester Steps to the Plate

January 14, 2018 — Reflecting a growing recognition among nonprofits that every board member needs to strongly advocate for the organization, the board chair of College Bound Dorchester stepped to the plate by having his ad agency create a pro-bono campaign to promote the organization's mission to help former gang members change their lives for the better.

"Boston Uncornered” a campaign developed last year by PJA Advertising + Marketing, aims to help former gang members, called core influencers, move away from the “corner” and make changes in their lives that can lead to a better future for themselves, their families, their neighborhoods and society as a whole.

Boston Uncornered also encourages people to “uncorner” their minds to see the potential of gang members as change agents. It also encourages people to “uncorner” their minds to see the potential of gang members as change agents.

To help get out the message, PJA recently created a video, posted on the College Bound Dorchester (CBD) website, called “The Other Innovation District.” Using student voices and images of them in their neighborhood, the video presents the students as “start-ups” and their community as the “other innovation district,” saying both are an investment worth making.

“I love how audacious the mission is,” said Mike O’Toole, PJA's president. “College Bound takes the most disruptive, off-track kids in the city, the kids most people have written off, and helps them get on a college track. We’ve seen how that changes the kids’ lives, but we also know it can change communities.”

According to the National Council of Nonprofits, a key nonprofit trend in 2018 is growing awareness that every board member, as well as the organization itself, needs to be a strong advocate for its mission.

The Boston Uncornered campaign apparently was so effective that PJA language was included in a line item of the Massachusetts state budget calling for funding of programs that take youth “from the corner to college.”

Since Boston Uncornered was formally announced last spring, it has received attention in national media outlets, including the CBS Evening News, Washington Post, NPR, Atlantic Magazine’s City Lab, and the Christian Science Monitor.

Mark Culliton, chief executive officer of CBD, lauded PJA, noting that its “commitment and contribution to College Bound Dorchester cannot be overstated. Mike and his talent team continuously bring their passion and talent to our organization. Their heart shows in their work.”

CBD, based in the Bowdoin-Geneva neighborhood of Boston, serves high- and proven-risk youth and young adults, ages 16 to 27, who have tried and/or failed out of other schools, programs or jobs by providing academic, social, and emotional support for students facing challenges including incarceration, poverty, and language barriers.

In the last four years, CBD has helped more than 200 young people and core influencers enroll in college with a 70% fall-to-fall retention rate, significantly higher than national norms.

PJA is a full service digital ad agency headquartered in Cambridge.

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