As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Jess Collins and Peyton Rowe challenged their talented students at VCU to consider how they wanted to proceed after the 24-hour creative event was cancelled. Not surprising, all 19 students worked in their newly merged teams to craft two approaches to taking CreateAthon online. 

Before the pandemic, teams were competing for the nonprofit’s business. The goal was to tackle the nonprofits’ needs from two angles, pitch at the end of the 24-hour event and win the business. Post event, the teams were to merge and revise the winning work in consultation with the client. 

With the new approach, teams have merged and the clients chose the creative brief they connected with most. Each of the five teams is now ready to tackle the projects defined in the briefs. 

There are two approaches developed by our amazing students: synchronous and asynchronous. All teams are working completely virtually, using tools of all kinds ranging from Zoom to Google Meet to Slack. In our minds, our students are on the cutting edge of learning best practices for how to collaborate and create in what will certainly become a more prevalent methodology: virtual offices. All work is due at the same time with the same end result, a recorded presentation to share with clients. Each group decided on different ways to reach the goal.

CreateAthon Jog – Asynchronous

Three of our five amazing teams are choosing to do a jog. These teams will work over the course of 12 days to create effective solutions for their nonprofits. Those organizations are 


Team: Andrew Grant, Lauren Thomas, Rafael Wells


Richmond Storyhouse

Team: Heather Anderson, Leeann Dancy, Nathan Deaner, Kolbe Granderson


Latinos en Virginia

Khalied Bashri,  Victoria Frank, Susie Gittelsohn, Daniel Villery


In some instances, these teams are getting original student volunteers to help them create the deliverables defined in the creative brief while some are tackling it with their own skills. In addition, teams have the option to reach out to their originally assigned Super Mentors, professionals from the Richmond area who had worked with them leading up to the planned 24-hour event, to get guidance and feedback. The others are working over a longer period of time outside of these sprint times. And they are doing awesome work too!


CreateAthon Sprint – Synchronous

Two teams will be doing three 8 hour sprints on Friday, 4/3, Saturday, 4/4, and Friday, 4/10. The schedule for each of these days is the same, mirroring the structure of the 24-hour event. Kickoff, lunch, mentor check-ins, breaks and end of day wrap up. 


Those organizations are

Richmond Parkinson’s Dance Project

Team: Jack Duffy, Madeline Honig, Michelle Mead, Alexandra Patrick


Paws Unleashed Potential

Team:  Ryan Harrell, Natalie Lundin, Kate Wagstaff, Sean Wollenberg


Both teams are getting original student volunteers to help them create the deliverables defined in the creative brief. In addition, each team will have their Super Mentor working with them and six professional mentors who originally volunteered their time have agreed to meet during review periods. 

We are going to be documenting and figuring it out as we go but we will have mentor check ins, breaks and final presentations recorded to share with the nonprofits.