City Tech Students Help Rockaway Non-Profit Create Visual Identity

June 24, 2013 | New York City College of Technology

Brooklyn, NY — A group of students from New York City College of Technology (City Tech) recently presented the design work they created for the non-profit organization You Are Never Alone (YANA) at the MoMA PS1 VW Dome 2 in Rockaway Beach.

YANA is a worker-training center whose purpose is to bring jobs to the Rockaways focused on green, sustainable technologies. It was established a week before super-storm Sandy devastated the area. VW Dome 2 is a temporary geodesic dome erected in March, as part of MoMA PS1’s EXPO 1: New York, in partnership with Volkswagen, to serve as a center for art exhibits, performances and community events.

City Tech student designers at MoMA PS1 exhibiting their work. Photo credit: Jonathan Campoverde.

City Tech student designers at MoMA PS1 exhibiting their work. Photo credit: Jonathan Campoverde.

The class initially worked collaboratively in researching the assignment, but each student created the actual design work independently. A design by Verónica Silva, an international student from Mexico who has lived in Woodside, Queens, for almost three years, was eventually chosen by YANA to become the organization’s logo.

“I’m glad they chose my design, especially because there were so many good ones to pick from,” says Silva. “Now I have a great addition to my portfolio!”

The pro-bono YANA project was an ideal service-learning assignment for City Tech advertising design and graphic arts students taking the “Advanced Vector Art” course, taught by Assistant Professor Genevieve Hitchings. Students were asked to design the organization’s visual identity, communicate its mission and generate public awareness.

“The 15 weeks of pro-bono, creative collaboration not only fulfilled the needs of YANA, but fostered learning and research in the classroom while benefitting the community,” says Hitchings. “We had regularly scheduled meetings with YANA founder Salvatore Lopizzo. Students were able to ask questions about the client’s goals and receive honest feedback on their work.”

YANA strives to identify needs within a community and seeks to find solutions by drawing on the natural strengths and resources found within that community through collaborative efforts.

According to Lopizzo, “The decision on which design to go with was not an easy one and did not happen quickly. Ultimately we felt Ms. Silva’s design perfectly captured our organization’s ethos and could also effectively be used as the visual representation of our brand.” It was Lopizzo who connected the class to MoMA PS1 VW Dome 2 in Rockaway Beach.

City Tech student Verónica Silva (left) poses with her winning design and Professor Hitchings. Photo credit: Josephine Hitchings.

City Tech student Verónica Silva (left) poses with her winning design and Professor Hitchings. Photo credit: Josephine Hitchings.

Besides seeing her design implemented, Silva received much more in return. “I feel like I gave something useful to people (especially Salvatore) who give a lot to the community.” Silva says. “Having a corporate identity will help YANA be recognized by everybody out there as a serious association, making it easier for the staff to succeed in attracting and helping clients.”

The other students in Hitchings’ class benefited from the experience, too.

“Working with YANA really helped me think deeper about what this small community organization needs,” says Cindy Chen. “YANA founder Salvatore Lopizzo is a dedicated man who generates a flow of positive feedback from everyone he encounters.”

Jie Chen agrees and adds, “I think it was a great learning experience taking on a real client as a class project.” Diellza Kukaj, who also took the class, says, “Creating something visual for YANA that could potentially impact and transform communities around the world was powerful.”

New York City College of Technology (City Tech) of The City University of New York (CUNY) is the largest public college of technology in New York State. Located at 300 Jay Street in Downtown Brooklyn, the College enrolls more than 16,000 students in 65 baccalaureate, associate and specialized certificate programs.