Working with Friends of the Children has been one of the most fulfilling projects we have been able to work on so far.
Friends Of the Children partners with students hailing from tougher than usual backgrounds starting in Kindergarten and support them until high school graduation. They are amazingly successful in increasing high school graduation rates and reducing the chances their students risk of entering the juvenile justice system and avoiding early parenthood.
It started with our Photographer, Nicole Mitterer. She decided it was about time we found a way to give back to the Portland community and find a project. She volunteered to take on the lion’s share of the work if we could find an organization in need of a little marketing support doing something they didn't have the resources for. Friends of the Children stands out as one of the great local non-profits in Oregon and decided to see if we could help in some way.
This project started around the middle of the school year for their students. We realized getting their graduating students senior portraits would be a wonderful way to commemorate their achievements and celebrate their student’s success.
We are elated they welcomed the project.
At this point it was too late to get portraits for the student’s year books, but, for us, the primary goal of this photo project was to benefit the students and to give them and their families portraits to look back on when reflecting on the accomplishment of graduating high school. We believe photos are powerful and transformational, the impact of being able to capture and revere the handwork of these students was our primary purpose in this project.
Believe it or not, organizing a cohort of teenagers can be difficult. Understanding this, we set up two primary shoots for the students and a third for any who couldn't commit to the schedule. We wanted to get as many photos for as many students as possible. With permission, some of our favorite photos are below.
Meeting the students was a humbling experience, hearing about their backgrounds, their hurdles, and, most importantly, their successes despite of them is truly inspirational.
We realized this story needed to be shared, for the students, for Friends of the Children, and for the community of Portland, who's support has helped Friends of the Children thrive for almost 25 years. Public relations, and media relations in particular, is no simple task. For many organizations, sharing their stories through the press can be too difficult or time consuming. Unlike many aspects of marketing, in media relations there generally are not firm commitments and it can be disheartening to invest so much time working on building connections when the results are unknown. Establishing interest in sea of news requires patience and a great deal of networking. So Blackline Collective decided we would take responsibility for sharing this story on Friends of the Children’s behalf.
With special thanks to a gentleman named Bruce Sussman (KATU, Oregonian), who's tireless efforts helped us pitch the story, we got the attention of the politics editor at the Oregonian. The Oregonian sent a journalist to join the students at the Friends of the Children graduation ceremony to interview students and tell the story of their journey.
You can read the full article here.
Here is where you can get involved, with either in the next steps for these graduating students post high school or with the next generation of students to come. You can follow this link to visit the Friends of the Children donation page. If you notate your donation for the scholarship board, your donation will go to post-secondary education for the graduating students.