LaineGabriel launches scholarship for high school students

LaineGabriel is using the knowledge and skills it acquired while helping clients carry out their philanthropic efforts to launch The Tenfold Initiative, a scholarship program for area high school seniors.

The Columbus-based firm has done environmental design, advertising campaigns, 3D billboards, intranets and more for clients such as Nationwide and Bob Evans. Meanwhile, the work of the firm’s principals, Lisa Miller and James Brown, on both the client and agency side of communications has emphasized the importance of establishing a creative partnership with clients.

“We really help our clients succeed,” says Miller. “That’s the end goal.”

When LaineGabriel decided to create a scholarship program, it turned the tables on itself and treated the project like a client. The firm researched how to establish a scholarship program and how to give correctly and ethically through a scholarship program. It also developed an execution and communication plan, and began reaching out to guidance counselors, teachers, financial aid offices, and arts organizations to help spread the word about The Tenfold Initiative.

However, LaineGabriel is no stranger to giving back to the community. Over the years,  it has supported philanthropic initiatives at clients such as Bob Evans, Komen Columbus, and the Furniture Bank of Central Ohio with branding and marketing guidance.

“If we’re making money, we have to do some good with it,” says Brown.

James Brown and Lisa Miller, principals at LaineGabriel

The scholarship, a concept four years in the making, is inspired by an experience Miller had growing up. In high school, she was interested in taking a college course, but was unable to afford it. Her art teacher learned of the situation and paid $350 for the class, which was being offered at Columbus College of Art & Design. That single act of kindness has stayed with Miller ever since.

LaineGabriel’s  $1,500 non-renewable scholarship is open to Central Ohio graduating seniors. Applicants must submit two letters of recommendation (including one from a teacher), six samples of work, transcripts, and a written essay describing his or her need. Applicants will be judged on a weighted system with an emphasis on his or her essay and samples of work.

The judging panel will include the art teacher who inspired Miller with her gift and, as an added perk, the teacher of the winning applicant will receive a $150 gift card to Utrecht for art supplies.

“I want the students to feel the way I did when I received that gift and I want to return it tenfold,” Miller says.

In addition to the scholarship, LaineGabriel will begin offering art classes once a quarter starting this summer. The classes will be geared toward primary to middle school students ages 8 to 12 years old. The firm is also offering speaking engagements to high school art classes and mentoring programs.

Plus, LaineGabriel is already thinking about additions and plans for The Tenfold Initiative in 2012. This year’s plan was to roll out the scholarship and establish connections; due to considerable interest, they are looking at establishing a 501c(3) that would  allow others to contribute funds. In time, it is hoped that clients will have the opportunity to donate funds directly to the scholarship.

When asked what they recommend to businesses looking to start a philanthropic program, Miller and Brown both agree they should go beyond writing a check and get involved in the community they want to support to better understand its needs. The duo contends that while the charitable work a business does might not seem like a lot, it means something to someone in the community.

“Follow a passion,” Miller says. “No matter what it is, you will find someone you can help with it.”

To learn more about the LaineGabriel Tenfold Initiative, visit Facebook.com/LaineGabriel.

Philanthropic Pursuit is a monthly feature on The Metropreneur, powered by Community Shares of Mid Ohio. Is your business giving back to the community or partnering with a local nonprofit in a unique way? We want to hear about it. Contact Ryan Kovalaske at [email protected].