Two years ago, PJA Advertising + Marketing (PJA) launched a bold, innovative, pro-bono campaign based on a new word “Uncornered.” PJA felt that a single word could change the way people think about the potential of gang members to be positive change agents who can end systemic, generational, urban poverty, according to PJA’s Chief Executive Officer, Phil Johnson.
Johnson states, “We started PJA Advertising to specialize in healthcare and technology and I sometimes asked what do new technologies, life science innovations, and gang members have in common? They are not easy to sell to the public."
However, the name "Uncornered" has drawn national attention to College Bound Dorchester’s first- in-the-nation 'corner-to-college' solution that pays gang members $400 per week to go to college, get a degree, stay in the community, earn a living wage, and become positive (rather than negative) role models in Boston’s most violent streets.
PJA brought this branding to life with the Uncornered Photo Documentary Exhibit, which was on display on Boston Common this past summer and is expected to move to Boston’s City Hall and the University of Massachusetts / Boston later this year.
It paired striking photos of famous and unknown people by Boston photographer John Huet with stories about a time when participants found themselves cornered by racism, a traumatic event, or low expectations and what happened to get them to turn things around and become ‘uncornered’.
Uncornered Students Share Their Stories
Brittany Baldwin, Boston Uncornered Student
After months of neglecting my health and abusing drugs and alcohol I caught pneumonia and fell into a coma. Within six months of coming out, I lost two of the most important people in my life, my boyfriend and my mother. Losing them was my Uncornered moment. When you lose everything you love, you have to find something to fight for. So I fight for my children who keep me grounded.
Alex Diaz, Boston Uncornered Student
I didn’t care if I lived or died. I went to prison and missed the birth of my first-born daughter. When I got, out, I promised to never miss another day of her life. My daughter saved me from myself, my daughter UNCORNERED me.
Quaknesha Garvin Johnson, Boston Uncornered Student
I grew up seeing my family members and friends being incarcerated and not understanding why. By my second arrest I was facing 20 years and had almost given up, until I heard the quote “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” That began my UNCORNERED journey.
Mark Culliton, Founder and CEO, College Bound Dorchester
I was living in San Francisco, lost and had forgotten who I was. My father got very sick and I came back to be with him. In those last months together he reminded me of who I was and all that was possible. His path to dying UNCORNERED me.
ABOUT COLLEGE BOUND DORCHESTER
Founded in 2009, College Bound Dorchester is a Boston nonprofit using education to end systemic generational urban poverty and violence through its Uncornered solution to quip young people with the attitude, skills and experience to graduate from college, focusing on engaging gang-involved youth to become positive leaders in their community.
PJA is a $75 million advertising and marketing agency with offices in Cambridge, Mass. and San Francisco, Calif. PJA serves a global roster of technology, life science and healthcare clients that includes: GE Healthcare, PAREXEL, Patheon, Molecular Health, Xylem, and Aprecia. For more information, visit agencypja.com.