While serving as a board member of a charter school, Rafael Alvarez realized the need for an organization that would assist economically challenged high school students who lacked the necessary skills to succeed in the competitive job market. To meet this need, he left his position as a corporate strategist at a Fortune 100 company in 2002 and founded Genesys Works (originally named Genesys ITS, Inc.).
Because he had been associated with BrandExtract Chairman and CEO Jonathan Fisher in the past, Mr. Alvarez approached him about helping to brand and position the not-for-profit organization that would enable inner-city youth to break through barriers and prepare for the corporate world by giving them crucial tools and meaningful work experience with corporate sponsors while still in high school.
The BrandExtract Solution
We began the process of branding what was then Genesys ITS by positioning them in the market and suggesting they take on a new name. The original name derived from the idea that the organization would primarily assist students in developing skills for the IT industry, but, aware of the organization's vision of extending beyond the one industry, we proposed a less limiting name - Genesys Works. Once the name was adopted, we created an identity that would encompass a corporate feel while still retaining a youthful look, to appeal to both target audiences: corporate partners and potential students.
For the logo, we designed a symbol that visually communicates the evolutionary transformation that Genesys Works students go through. The color palette was chosen because it has both a youthful energy and professional appearance, again connecting to both audiences.
Once the identity was established, we began developing supporting materials, including event posters that were ultimately put on display in a gallery at the JP Morgan Chase building in Houston. To create student recruiting posters, we brainstormed with several existing Genesys Works students as well as graduates of the program to get inspiration and an idea of how to effectively attract the audience.
Over the next few years, we continued to assist Genesys Works on a pro bono basis, developing brochures, an annual summary and other materials. We also helped them develop and manage a marketing plan and budget, which has led to further growth opportunities. They are now a regular client of BrandExtract, and have enlisted our services to develop a new website and support their marketing efforts as the organization expands.
When Genesys Works began, it had 10 students in the program and one corporate partner, and exclusively focused on the IT industry in Houston. Today, it has expanded to St. Paul, MN, and Chicago, and in 2009 it placed over 300 students in jobs with nearly 70 corporate partners, in the areas of IT, engineering, and accounting and finance.
In June 2009, Genesys Works was one of only four organizations honored by President Obama as a results-driven social enterprise at the launch of the White House Office of Social Innovation. Vanessa Nunez, a Genesys Works graduate, spoke to a standing-room only crowd of presidential cabinet members, philanthropists and social entrepreneurs in the East Room of the White House, and shared how the organization allowed her to experience success as a professional in the corporate world.