The Canvs Designathon was hosted on Saturday, August 26 from 9AM – 5PM at Canvs Parramore located in the UCF Center for Emerging Media. Nonprofits and small businesses in the District 5 area were invited to attend and receive free marketing materials, consultation and services provided by generous volunteers and professionals from the Central Florida community. The purpose of this Canvs event was to give back and support the emerging entrepreneurial community through creativity and collaboration!

The Canvs Designathon was the first event Canvs hosted of its kind. The idea stemmed from “hackathons” – events in which programmers and software developers collaborate to create usable technology. By making our version of a “hackathon” marketing-focused, we wanted to be accessible and valuable to businesses of all kinds.

Registered nonprofits and small businesses in District 5 were asked to provide a brief summary of their organization and could select from the following marketing needs:

  • A design for a pamphlet or flyer
  • Set of branding standards
  • New logo for a company
  • Updates to an existing flyer or design
  • Business cards
  • Simple landing page
  • Design audit on a current website

These marketing services were then delivered on by INCREDIBLE volunteers and local heroes we gathered from the Central Florida community!

Our roundup of nonprofits, small businesses, sponsors, and volunteers for this event was astounding.



  • The First Harvest Foundation: a nonprofit 501c3 in Parramore providing community services by helping homeless children with educational needs, and providing families with food, clothes, and spiritual counseling.
  • IDignity: a nonprofit dedicated to restoring dignity and hope by assisting individuals through the complicated process of re-obtaining identification documents.
  • Popcorn Junkie LLC: a new Parramore business that just opened in May of 2017 that specializes in gourmet popcorn flavors and customized gifts.
  • New Image Youth Center: entering their 13th year of serving the youth and families of Parramore through after-school and summer programs.
  • Professional Opportunities Programs for Students, Inc. (POPS): a 501c3 nonprofit with a mission to enrich the life experiences for teenagers as they transition into adulthood by providing personal and professional development opportunities that will have generational impact regardless of the social, economic or environmental barriers that they may face.
  • TechPays Foundation, Inc.: an organization that awards computer science & technology scholarships for underserved boys of color ages 7-18 to attend camps, go on field trips and pair with tech mentors.
  • PlayGround City: a nonprofit educational organization that connects, designs, and curates learning experiences that activate Orlando as an educational playground to bridge the gap from education through real-world learning.
  • Reinam Restaurant Group: a District 5 hospitality group that will collaborate with other restaurateurs looking to create and launch their restaurant startup with shared commercial kitchen space.




In addition to the organizations receiving free marketing materials and services, we also created workshop opportunities for the attending organizations to learn about marketing best practices.

La Toya Hodge, Assistant Director, Communications and Strategy – Florida Consortium of Metropolitan Research Universities delivered a “Free Marketing Tools You Should Be Using” workshop.

“Free Marketing Tools You Should Be Using” Overview:

  • An interactive workshop designed to help businesses communicate with customers and market to new prospects. This session is perfect for organizations with limited budget, marketing headcount, and time. Participants will leave this session armed with information that they can start using right away.


Chris Dell, founder of Go Baller delivered a “Web Design – Build Your Own Brand” workshop.

“Web Design – Build Your Own Brand” Overview:

  • How do I build my own professional website? – Discussing ways we can use simple web design tips & tricks to build our own website in less than one day, whether it’s for a company, startup, new venture or our personal brand.
  • Do I need a mobile website and on what platform? – Breaking down the benefits of having a mobile-friendly/responsive website & what it means for your customer. Taking a look at various website builder options.
  • “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” – reviewing our favorite websites and brands and going over the various (free and cheap) tools to help us go from novice web builder to web ninja master – all without knowing how to code!

All of our attendees enjoyed complimentary lunch on us from Caribbean Sunshine Bakery, a District 5 locally owned business (and yes, the food was DELICIOUS). 

We had custom designed t-shirts created for the Canvs Designathon by Joshua Barrios, our summer intern from Tallahassee’s Domi Station! We remixed our usual Canvs logo to encompass design through the paintbrush and technology through the binary code. These t-shirts were then live printed at the Designathon itself by Impress Ink!


In just 8 hours, our volunteers and organizations truly collaborated to create some wonderful projects! See for yourself below.

The First Harvest Foundation, BEFORE:

The First Harvest Foundation, AFTER:

In return for their time, thanks to our sponsors, we provided gift bags, t-shirts, prize raffles, and handwritten thank you cards to ALL those that attended!

All in all, our event was a huge success – we are so proud of our community coming together and banding as one! Some pairs of organizations & volunteers even continued working together after the event officially ended! 

We surveyed all of our attendees to collect feedback and improve this first-ever Canvs event for next time.

When asked what their key takeaway was from the event, attendees said:

  • “The new relationships formed between designers and non-profits and the exposure these organizations got to new and exciting tools and ideas”
  • “Opportunity to serve, opportunity to build new relationships”
  • “Learned more about different local non-profits and met with like minded people who believe in giving back to our community”
  • “Meeting people in Orlando and seeing their passion for business”

Many respondents thoroughly enjoyed the event:

  • “Great start to a powerful movement of empowering those who need it most. Giving people the tools to succeed is so much more sustainable! YAY!”
  • “Do it again!”
  • “Awesome event! I’d like to see more.”

The Canvs Designathon was truly a labor of love for our community. Canvs is a 501c4 nonprofit and we exist to give back to the community in any shape or form we can. We’ve already begun brainstorming more creative ways to give back, and we look forward to hosting more events like this in the future!


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