United Way posters are meant to reach out and touch—with vibrant graphics and descriptive text to attract attention on how to “Live United” in Greater Rochester.
But for the last 10 years, the kickoff for Rochester Institute of Technology’s annual campaign has begun in the classroom with a group of students from the university’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf.
Sure, the NTID students want an “A” for their graphic design project assignment called “United Way Posters.” But they also are competing against their peers to create the winning poster designs showcased around campus that highlight RIT families who have benefited from the helping hand of United Way agencies.
This year’s winners for the 2012 poster designs are second year students at RIT—Brandon Edquist, 19, who hails from Twin Lakes, Wis., and Matthew Pituk, 21, from Mobile, Ala.
According to Katherine Olsen, associate professor in NTID’s Arts & Imaging Studies Program who teaches the course, the assignment is client-oriented and must demonstrate all the traditional United Way elements in an eye-catching and inspirational design.
“This year we had 14 entries from students in two of my courses,” Olsen explains. “It’s a competitive project but collaborative and the students all help one another to create a persuasive design for the purpose of fundraising. Brandon and Matthew are immensely talented, work closely together in class and really do influence each other’s designs, so it’s no surprise they both won.
“I’ve noticed more of a sophistication in the students’ posters over the years, a design savvy and careful attention to detail,” Olsen says. “These are associate degree students—they are only here for two to three years—so it’s a wonderful opportunity for them to help our community and get exposure in a real-world project.”
Lynn Rowoth, RIT’s United Way campaign coordinator and director of special events and conferences for RIT’s Government and Community Relations, says: “Our campaign has always been regarded as a role model in the community and this is just one more element that makes it unique—not only telling our stories of RIT families who have been impacted, but then being able to produce our posters in-house by NTID students. Faculty, staff and alumni may give pledges, but engaging our students is a critical component on many levels. We want them to go out after they’ve graduated and know what United Way is.”
Edquist and Pituk say the winning poster designs will add to their portfolios when they seek jobs after graduation in graphic design or advertising. “We feel pretty honored that we won and are anxious to see people’s reactions across campus.”