Liz Volpi

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Catholic Charities of New Orleans.


Project Overview

My first job out of college was with Catholic Charities of New Orleans (CCANO), where I worked for three years as a Site Coordinator and Educator for the English as a Second Language (ESL) division. I loved working there because the program is more than just a place to take classes: it's a community filled with involved, outgoing, and passionate people. Plus, the potluck parties are always bomb.

During this time, I was also studying design in classes, at other part-time jobs, and on my own. For the first two years, advertising and marketing for the ESL program was minimal. In my third year, I decided to put my new design skills to use by spearheading campaigns and designing materials to promote our program.

The Social Media Campaign

Inspired by what I had learned during my internship at DEVENEY, I wanted to put my new knowledge of marketing to the test. Thus, I created a small social media campaign with two goals: to enroll more students and to recruit more volunteers.

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Social Media Research & Strategy

I discovered most students learned of the program by word of mouth. They also heavily rely on social media—primarily Facebook and Instagram—to keep in touch with new teachers, with classmates, and with family members back home.

To work within the word of mouth and social media sharing structures, I decided to use Instagram and Facebook as the main marketing channels. I kept the content focus on our students so potential students and volunteers can immediately see what impact CCANO has made on these individuals' lives.

Student Interviews and Impact

I asked four students who had been in our program for several semesters two questions: "Why is it important to take English classes?" and "How have our English classes helped you?"  Then, I recorded their responses, photographed the students, and used these elements to create images for the campaign.

Not only did CCANO use these to promote the program on their social media channels, but we empowered our students to share the images on their personal social media accounts. Any captions or comments were left to them to write and they did so in English or in their native languages. This made it easy for potential students to ask about our program in English or their native language.

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The Volunteer Recruitment Flyers

In the weeks before classes begin, we normally flood local coffee shops, universities, libraries and community centers with flyers in search of new volunteer teachers and interns. Inspired by Simon Sinek's Ted Talk, I wanted to make our flyers more compelling by featuring the reasons why volunteers dedicate so much of their time to the program. 

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Volunteer Interviews & Positioning

To get to the "why" I asked several of our teachers and interns one question: why do they stick with the program for so long? Their responses: "Because you fall in love with your students" / "Because it's fun to get to know people from different places" / "Because you help build a community" / "Because you get to make a real difference in people's lives". Every volunteer I interviewed had different ways of saying the same thing: the students keep them coming back.

We sought to recruit community-driven individuals already looking for ways to give back, particularly those interested in cultural exchanges. Thus, flyers featuring compelling copy and images posted in community spaces around town best reached our target audience.

Flyer Design Strategy

The flyers feature one action verb in large type to grab attention immediately, quickly getting to the purpose of the flyer. Then, a line beneath completes the thought with why one should consider carrying through with the initial action verb.

Beneath is a third line, tying the headline copy to the purpose of building a community with the CCANO ESL program. Photos of real volunteers and interns with our students accompany this text, immediately giving the viewer a clear picture of what to expect when they join our program.

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The Internship Program

Every semester, the CCANO ESL program recruits interns from local universities to fill administrative assistant roles. For the most part, they carry out office duties or substitute-teach as needed, without being encouraged to bring their ideas to the organization. That seemed pretty boring to me, so I explored some new approaches to the program.

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Internship Crafting

In a professional development session, I learned about Echoing Green's Work On Purpose curriculum: an approach to management empowering workers by allowing them to develop their own job descriptions. They call this Job Crafting (or, for our purposes: Internship Crafting).

Inspired, I pitched this idea to my boss with the intent of restructuring our internship program to involve job crafting. I wanted interns to engage with our community on a deeper level by sharing their interests with our students, giving interns a platform to develop clubs, projects, and new curricula for our program.


End Results

After implementing these initiatives, enrollment of ESL students not only increased from 590 to 639 students, but 50% of them remained in the program for 40+ hours of class time.

This was a huge feat for the program, as attendance has traditionally dwindled severely before students complete 40 hours of class time.


For more about this project, please follow the link below:

Catholic Charities Portfolio Item

Skills at play: concept creation and execution, copywriting, typography, photography, social media, layout design