How to make STEM education a priority for marginalized students in Illinois.

December 19, 2018 - 8 minutes read

Case Study: CPASS Foundation, the formation of a vibrant, new organization to inspire passion around STEM education

Birk Creative was approached by the leadership of the Chicago Area Health and Medical Careers Program (CAHMCP) to help envision and create a new platform to raise the visibility of the program.

It was more than simply a relaunch, but a restructuring around the organization’s purpose: to help underrepresented students, specifically African-American and Latino, pursue and succeed in careers in healthcare. Statistics bear out that the students are less likely to be admitted to medical school, and the graduation rates for those who do are lower.

During our research, we learned that a solid foundation in STEM is now critical for anyone interested in the medical field, and this revamped organization was to be based on providing access and advocacy to professional mentors in the field, academic resources, camps and retreats, activities and more in STEM.

After determining client desired outcomes, we recommended to leadership the creation of an umbrella organization under which CAHMCP would operate. We named the organization CPASS Foundation which stands for Creating Pathways and Access for Student Success.

The Solution

Branding and Website

In addition to the naming process, the next need was to develop a brand identity, including a logo, brand standards, social media strategy and a website that deployed SEO tools and utilized Google analytics. Birk Creative worked in close collaboration with Dr. Eric Whitaker, who suggested video interviews with the original founders of CAHMCP. It was an excellent idea, and Birk Creative designed an ambitious undertaking by creating a 25 video series featuring alumni of the CAHMCP program from as far back as the 1970s who were able to go to medical school because of the mentoring and pipelining they had received. Birk Creative created the commercials, including developing questions, conducting interviews and production.

STEM Program Searchable Custom Database

Parents generally struggle to find STEM programming during the summer. In fact, finding the right camps and activities that are academically enriched takes time because there isn’t a consolidated online source for parents to find summer solutions. Our client’s idea was to create a proprietary online database that parents could easily access to search for programming for their children. After researching artificial intelligence and automation solutions to help us create the basis for search for STEM programs, we came to the conclusion that manual search and ongoing updates would be the most economically feasible for CPASS Foundation. Our solution was to design and program a powerful database of information with STEM Classes, day camps and other activities in Illinois to help parents who, prior to this, had no single source of information. The database, wholly owned by the Foundation, helps parents seamlessly find the information they seek, including locations, gender specific programming, schedules, costs, enrollment information and links to additional information.

STEM Careers Infographic

Technology is changing so rapidly, it’s hard to keep up with all the new and innovative careers that are based on STEM. For younger students, learning about coding, math, online search and data analysis can lead to long term, sustainable and high paying careers in medical technologies. To help parents and students see the future of medical technology, we created a custom infographic that outlines the pathways through STEM to careers that most students are now learning about.

Medical Student Study Tip Book

Most students served by the CPASS Foundation enter college without many of the same resources and information as their white counterparts. Birk Creative wrote and published a book for new college students with tips and “how tos” around studying, scheduling, time management, test prep, health and more.

Social Media Strategy and Implementation

Given that most social engagement and fundraising happens online, we established all relevant and impactful social channels, designed a goals-based social media strategy, created a content matrix and wrote custom content for each channel to run concurrently each month. Primary channels include LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. We also created the first CPASS Foundation tv channel on YouTube.

Theme Song Development

The most fun we had was composing CPASS Foundation original theme music. Using a combination of orchestration, guitars, synthesizers and more, we created a soft and safe mood that reassures families, students, stakeholders and fundraisers alike that CPASS Foundation is the best organization to help guide you to success in STEM advocacy for young students.

The Results

The CPASS Foundation now has a vibrant platform and an arsenal of tools for raising money and awareness around the importance of STEM to young, underrepresented and marginalized medical students. The organization’s leadership, credibility and expertise is recognized throughout the country, and early press coverage is very positive, generating significant engagement through social media, radio and the press.

Most impressively, Birk Creative completed this multilayered and dynamic initiative within six months, and Executive Director Dr. Stephen A. Martin, Jr., PhD, MPH, says, “We are excited about having an outstanding professional presence on various social media platforms, including the website to introduce our revamped programs and new educational offerings. Birk Creative did not let the process overwhelm us. They kept us focused, informed and involved throughout, which was impressive given the large-scale effort and detail needed to build a presence that reflects our vision, engages our audience, stakeholders and partners. JinJa and her team helped us make our organization’s brand identity a top priority, even down to an original CPASS Foundation branded theme song. Everything was done right, very professionally and is sure to prove a very sound investment. We highly recommend Birk Creative without reservation for any major brand launch, implementation and management.”

Contact JinJa Birkenbeuel at hello at birk creative dot com when you need a full-service and attentive creative agency to design your next brand and brand strategy.