THRIVE: What’s Next

If you have been following us for a while, you probably are aware that last night was the Impact Venture Challenge Finale. Unfortunately, we did not place in the top 3 in the event; therefore we did not receive funding for ABC. For about 30 seconds late last night (after contemplating anything I [Dani] could have/should have done differently… picturing over and over again the anticipation building backstage as we awaited the announcement of the winners) I questioned whether or not what we did was really all that important. “If we weren’t “good enough” to win a competition within the “Messiah bubble,” are we really going to make an impact outside of it?”

But then, those 30 seconds of pointless doubt ended.

Matthew 14:31-21 comforted me the night before the finale of Impact Venture Challenge and comforts me more still this morning:

13 When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns.14 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.

15 As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.”

16 Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”

17 “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.

18 Bring them here to me,” he said. 19 And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. 20 They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 21 The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.

Five loaves for thousands of people?! That’s practically a breadcrumb per person.

And they were satisfied. I’d say satisfaction x 5,000 (men, not to mention women and children) = a thriving community!

Disclaimer: I am not a biblical scholar or a mathematics wiz, but I felt a connection to this passage like never before over the past 48 hours.

The question people immediately began asking me (and I’m sure they asked other Leadership Team members, as well) is what now—what comes next? How do we bounce back?

Now, we THRIVE on the breadcrumbs that will satisfy our programs hungers. This initiative will include expanding our donation base, continuing to be extremely resourceful, educating our volunteers through student-lead workshops, and more!

As far as this very moment, we want to pause and say THANK YOU for your continued support of our program. Please stay tuned for more practical details about our future.

Don’t worry—we aren’t going anywhere. There are more kids than we can count that are eager to express themselves and we are determined to cultivate their imagination and embolden their voice!



What IVC has taught ABC…

With the Impact Venture Challenge (IVC) 2017 Finale being only two nights away, I (Katy) thought I could share some of the lessons IVC has taught Art Beyond the Classroom this year. At the beginning of Junior year, Ally, Dani, Lindsey, and I met to discuss how and what ABC would look like in the coming year. We divided up tasks, and then Dani shared her final idea. Let’s go for Impact Venture Challenge… we all paused… and said “Sure!” I am so glad we have gone on this journey because ABC has grown immensely because of.

Have an answer, and always have a REASON for that answer. We have to thank the guidance of the students and faculty on the IVC Advisory Board, who have coached and guided our young venture along the way. Each and every decision, whether what we projected our revenue to be or why we bought jackets, we needed a reason why. The revenue was based on the number of locations, and we decided to buy jackets to unify our volunteers and increase brand recognition.

Know your client. Know your target audience. Ever since the beginning of my Graphic Design career in high school, I have heard these two sayings. At ABC we are marketing to several target audiences for different purposes. The channels of Instagram and word-of-mouth function to recruit volunteers from Messiah’s campus. The website, word-of-mouth, and our direct contact function to meet and connect with possible new ABC locations. Lastly, we are marketing to the Impact Venture Challenge, which is a diverse group made up of students and faculty (Round 1-3), and professionals (Finale). IVC has challenged ABC to engage with these multiple channels in order to market a creative and professional service.

Have an elevator pitch. The beginning to a good pitch starts with a good elevator pitch. From day one of IVC, we were probed: what is your venture in 30 seconds or less? Essentially, you are in the elevator with someone for less than a minute, how would you explain what you do? The first time this was asked I was still developing how I would explain ABC. But today, I can tell and talk about each word of our mission statement and give my own short little elevator pitch.

In a nutshell (or in an elevator): ABC is a relational aesthetic-based intervention program based out of central Pennsylvania. We intervene in locations with hard or difficult circumstances and allow students to have a place for play within the context of art-making. We currently have two locations, and we are looking to expand more.

Thank you to all of our friends and family for continued support!

Our Office: A Misnomer

With two months until the finale of Impact Venture Challenge, we thought we would take a moment and reflect of all the places we have set up “shop” to be our office. The criteria? Well, four chairs, a table, some outlets, coffee, and the team. We joke so much that we have many offices and that we should share just how many we actually have!

1. The Art Education Room


IMG_5138The Art Department at Messiah has been supportive of ABC since day one. In the fall we used the Art Education Room to host an information session about ABC and recruit volunteers. That meeting in the fall lead to six new volunteers and a new active location. Today, that room is a home base for us to discuss and catch up about how things are going.

2. The Union

Even though we don’t have a picture…the Union has been our go-to for quick meetings. We have sat down in the Union for as quick as 20 minutes to get the team up to speed to over an hour going over decisions. Essentially, those short meetings as the Union keep us in the loop and sane.

3. Climmahega Drawing Studio


There have been many nights and mornings after doing art and reflecting together, we have come together to refine, to correct, and to perfect our business plan for IVC. As with all meetings, we have learned this year that sometimes we get to make really easy decisions like colors and art supplies, and we get to make really hard decisions too, like how much stake we each have in ABC.

4. The Library

IMG_5274IMG_5520For those days where we don’t get to do art before our meetings… we go to the library. Some days we just need to focus and dig into business plan changes. The library is much more quiet than the Union, but it still has coffee and snacks for all our needs.

5. Boyer Resource Rooms

IMG_5275For those times when need a “meeting of [all] the minds,” we will find the first open resource room and get to work. Pictured here was in the Fall right before Christmas Break where we fleshed out homework. Our ladies did such a great job writing cover letters and getting their clearances before contacting our new locations. At Messiah College, we have a couple of buzz-phrases and one is being intentional. Following that example at ABC we seek to be intentional in our interventions and make sure our volunteers are professionally prepared even before contacting a location.

6. Mac Lab

IMG_5548Big shoutout to Caris Ciccarello to filming our beautiful ABC video! The weeks leading up to finishing our video, there were many afternoons and nights some of us would meet in the Mac Lab to talk and discuss music and narrative of the video. The end result you can watch on our home page! In these last few months waiting for the results of IVC, you’ll be sure to find us around campus discussing our business plan, talking to new volunteers, and reflecting on our experiences in the field.

“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” – 1 Peter 4:10 (NIV)

Our Story: Forming ABC

“The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” – Buechner

Art Beyond the Classroom began as an idea in a Messiah College Created and Called for Community Class (CCC), but the passion was laid on our hearts long before. As a freshman, Dani was talking to one of the art professors, Professor Dubin, about her personal goals to become an Art Therapist. Nonchalantly, Professor Dubin said “why don’t you start a program?” That offhand comment got Dani thinking, and she has shared many times before that Professor Dubin believed in her before she believed in herself.

Then the first week of CCC, Ally and Dani were paired together for a class icebreaker to find out similarities. Dani, then an Art Education major, said she liked art therapy, and Ally, Human Growth & Family Sciences major, said she liked art therapy as well. That day, they decided to start the program. That semester they reached out to a local organization to provide creative intervention services, and to Dani and Ally’s delight they accepted.

In the fall of Sophomore Year (2016), enter Lindsey Markle. The Career Center on campus led a session on beginning a creative art group, and Lindsey said that she wanted to collaborate. Lindsey, as an Art Business major, has been our “go-to” for all of our business questions about advancing and expanding ABC. Lindsey also runs her own photography business, which provides her with real-world application and advice for ABC.

Finally, Katy met Dani through an Educational Psychology class where they teamed up to present on Service Learning. They talked at length about how service learning had impacted their lives in high school, and Dani shared stories about current her service learning in college. Katy was instantly intrigued, and Dani offhandedly  shared the need for a logo. Little did she know that Katy had done graphic design in high school. Quickly, Katy volunteered to make one, and the butterfly logo was born. Katy and Dani remained friends, but Katy did not contribute much more over their Sophomore year. Then in the fall of their Junior year, Dani asked Katy to come on as their Media Coordinator.

Each one of these interactions reaffirmed the quote we each talked about in our CCC classes: “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” (Buechner). Dani desires to allow people to express any way they want through art. Ally has a passion for healing families through art. Katy loves telling stories through words and art. Lindsey’s technical skills in the business world allows her to impact people through art. We each met each other seemingly on a whim, but it was all actually so purposeful.

Today, we are competing in Messiah College’s Impact Venture Challenge, added five new team members, and preparing to open two new locations. Our office is wherever there are four chairs, a table, and coffee.

Why a butterfly?

The following is an excerpt from Dani’s Field Journal about her why she and Ally chose the butterfly in our logo–dated August 6, 2016.

“Today, I finished a painting of a swan I titled ‘Le Petite Cygne’ or ‘The Little Swan.’ As I was working I reflected upon why, when choosing a design for ABC, I chose a butterfly. Growing up, I was obsessed with butterflies. I had butterfly sheets, butterfly curtains, butterfly wall art, I caught butterflies, we got a butterfly bush–the whole nine yards. As I grew up, I put the butterflies away, though I still loved their presence. By my sophomore year [of college], butterflies were the last thing on my mind amidst the challenges and curve balls life threw my way. But when asked for an idea for a design instinctively I said: ‘a simple butterfly.’ Why? I put them in the childhood closet. Life is too serious for butterflies! … no.”

“Life goes up and down and all around. Life is constantly metamorphasizing. Life is finding your dreaming wings, and feeling and struggling until you learn how to use them. Life is being stuck in a dark place just hopelessly waiting for a miracle to break you out. Life is trusting that what’s on the other side of this change is better than what you have now. Life is short. We are small–constantly tossed by resistance. But by-God, we are beautiful. And ‘in the face of life, the true dream is being able to dream'(Grey’s Anatomy)”.

We Made It to Round Two!

You may be asking round two of what? ABC made it to Round 2 of Messiah College’s Impact Venture Challenge! Now up until a few weeks ago I was not sure even what an “Impact Venture” was, but now I do. An Impact Venture is a business that brings in an income but also wants to make an impact in their community.

For ABC this resonates so perfectly and so precisely with our mission. ABC at the core seeks “To provide a safe space for play, exploration, and adventure in visual art in an environment outside of the general education classroom.” Our community that we want to impact are the under privileged, the students who never got art in school — the kids that need art the most.

Right now we are working on our Business Plan and grappling with how best to proceed and develop our group. Should we become a for-profit entity? Should we become a non-profit entity? Should we try a hybrid model? How will Impact Venture Challenge effect our expansion plans? We are almost asking: where will this take us?

But that is one of the most exciting things about this challenge, to paraphrase Maya Angelo (our motto and our mantra): we won’t use up our creativity because the more you use, the more you have. Impact Venture is already pushing ABC to expand in so many wonderful ways, and we can’t wait to see where it takes us. Bring on Round 3.