Kevin Swanepoel, CEO of the One Club for Creativity, believes the organization he leads has an image problem.
Though Swanepoel is behind events like Where Are All The Black People, an annual multicultural careers fair that has been running for more than 10 years, he still believes that many in the industry see it solely as an awards hub.
“One of our biggest frustrations as an organization is [that] It’s so misunderstood that One Club is just an award, ”he said.
To be fair, it’s true that its longtime One Show and ADC Awards are the bread and butter of the One Club. But this year the One Club has proven, perhaps more than anyone else, that it can do a lot more than just organize juries and lavish prize gala events in New York.
Throughout 2020, One Club, positioning itself as a not-for-profit organization dedicated to supporting and celebrating the “success of the global creative community,” took a proactive mindset on the challenges of the year to find solutions for some of the greatest Contributing to industry problems.
For example, in response to the nation’s racist reckoning, she worked with Spotify creative director Oriel Davis-Lyons to create One School, a free 16-week portfolio program for black creatives.
Later that year, the Seattle School of Visual Concepts debuted 2nd Skill, a nine-month virtual bootcamp aimed at creatives who may be struggling to find work or “future-proof” their careers.
Swanepoel claims people in the industry “got up and noticed” the One Club’s efforts, especially in a year when many organizations have withdrawn or struggled to stay afloat.
“I’ve had some really warm emails from very high-profile people in the industry,” he said. “To me, it’s so heartwarming because it means people are becoming aware of what we are about.”
Application for the 2nd skill ends on January 17th, so interest in the program remains to be seen. However, the One School, which was founded in July, has seen an overwhelming demand, so the One Club is currently working on expanding it further in 2021.
One School initially enrolled 15 students in its first fall course, which began in September. Shortly thereafter, the One Club expanded the virtual school to the west coast to accommodate more students. According to the One Club, 30 students have already completed the fall course and there are plans to do even more in the next year as its presence increases.
Yash Egami, vice president of content and marketing at One Club, said the school was set up to deter agencies from claiming they couldn’t find black creatives.
“The tired expression is, ‘We don’t know where to find talent. ‘By creating this pipeline, we are saying,’ There is no excuse, ‘said Egami. “We help this talent and help agencies identify this talent. We don’t solve the problem, but we help agencies solve this problem. “
Bob Isherwood, director of professional development at One Club, said the nonprofit also reached out to applicants who hadn’t cut back this fall and invited them to join a six-week mentoring program. Isherwood said 79 black creatives attended and were advised by mentors from agencies like DDB, McCann, and R / GA.
Participants worked on two letters throughout the program. According to Isherwood, there is hope that if they decide to reapply to One School they can use these briefs.