Designing Solutions: Georgia State University Partnership

The Center for Civic Innovation’s Westside Innovation Lab hosted its final showcase of social entrepreneurs in November, but the fruits of its labor are still manifesting. Throughout the 6-month fellowship, the Westside Innovation Lab partnered with Georgia State University’s Ernest G. Welch School of Art and Design under the lead of Professor Jefferey Boortz and teaching graduate assistant Bryan Perry, to offer experiential learning to senior design students and free brand booklets to our eight fellows.

On December 5, 2016, the graduating GSU seniors showcased the work they completed for each fellow. The presentations were beyond what any of our fellows expected and nothing short of what a corporation would receive for a contract of a few thousand dollars. All fellows received branding that included the development of a logo, collateral materials, a branded slide/presentation deck and mock advertisements. The students walked over to our co-working space on 3 separate occasions where they met with our fellows directly and asked questions to determine their needs, review their first and second drafts of materials and learned how they could best serve them with their unique design skills. As Program Manager of the Westside Innovation Lab, I couldn’t have asked for a better partnership than the one we have with Georgia State University. These students brought their A game and left our staff astonished and proud with level of commitment and quality of design they offered our entrepreneurs.

Take a look at some of the phenomenal work they produced:

Jeff Boortz, GSU Assistant Professor of Graphic Design commented saying, "We are thrilled to have been part of the Center for Civic Innovation’s Westside Innovation Lab and their efforts to identify and support community-driven and community-built ideas and interventions within neighborhoods on the westside of Atlanta. As graphic designers, we know that great brands help great businesses thrive. For 15 weeks, 32 of our seniors enrolled in two Design for Corporate Identity classes, broke into eight teams of four, and acted as start-up design companies building corporate identities for each of the [social entrepreneurs] participating in the Westside Innovation Lab.

The project was a tremendous learning experience for students and clients alike. The real world is more complicated than the classroom, but knowing that our efforts might affect the success of a real business and help revitalize a real neighborhood in Atlanta kept us focused and committed. Georgia State continues to be recognized as one of the most diverse universities in the nation. We are a vital part of downtown Atlanta and take pride in engaging with our neighbors to help make our city better. We look forward to working with CCI again soon."

1UP Studios was of the student teams that initially experienced a communication challenge with their client and understanding the unique target audience of HABESHA, Inc.’s Golden Seeds program. When it was their turn to present, they turned things upside down when they rolled out, not only logos and collateral, but created animations and storyboards for multiple advertisements and commercials that suited the organization in both its current stage and the future. This student team (among others) truly understood their client’s needs, desires and audience. Their information, selection of imagery, colors and feel of the brand clearly articulated exactly what the client wanted.

“The most impactful thing we learned from this experience is that communication is the most important thing. Whether communicating our ideas to the client clearly or understanding the needs of the client and the goals for their business, developing a good rapport was key in creating a product that encapsulated everything both the client and design team set out to do from the first meeting.” —1UP Studios (Client: HABESHA, Inc. - Golden Seeds)

1UP Studios
Hyun Jin Bae
Chriselle Manabat
Allie Ng—
Indigo Whatley—

Other student teams also went above the call of classroom requirements, with one of the teams doing a site visit to University Barbershop to better understand the community they were creating collateral for. This team collectively visited the barbershop outside of scheduled sessions and created a mock-up of the current shop with the rebranding they presented. A review of each of the student’s work is a testament to the talent our local institution produces and the level of commitment students had to make their concepts into a reality.

The Center for Civic Innovation couldn’t have been more thrilled with the quality of work these students presented and the level of involvement some of them had with their clients and our fellows!

If you would like to support our fellows in any capacity, please email for their contact information.

If you liked the work each team produced, they have graduated and are available for hire. Support our youth and their dynamic work by reaching out to them directly or by emailing their professor at