This past year, Assistant Professor of Public Relations David Brown celebrated 40 years in the field. In honor of this momentous anniversary, he decided to execute a project called 40 Hours to Make a Difference, in which he donated 10 hours of his time to helping four local nonprofits advance their missions.
Brown selected Temple PR students Hilkiah Bailey, Marlo Brooks, Stacey Motachwa and Khalil Bullock, otherwise known as 40 Hour Scholars, to work alongside him for a small stipend. They gained practical experience using their skills to give back to organizations that interest them.
"There's so much need in terms of public relations as it relates to nonprofits in Philadelphia in particular," Brown said. "I figured I can do some things and try to use it as an opportunity for other students to shadow me while commemorating the milestone."
Brown technically started out in the world of PR at the age of 14, when he entered an essay contest in Philadelphia centered on the 1976 bicentennial. He won an award and presented his essay entitled "Great Americans: How they Showed the Way."
Since then, Brown started or managed several communications firms, worked in the high ranks of the corporate world, managed a radio station and ran the West Philadelphia Alliance for Children, a nonprofit that facilitates child literacy by reopening previously closed public elementary school libraries.
The four nonprofits that Brown teamed up with for the 40 Hours project include: Mighty Writers, an organization that helps children sharpen their writing skills; Play On, Philly! (POP,) an after school supplemental music program where students in underserved schools can play in an orchestra and receive musical instruction; Black Writers Museum, dedicated to African American literary heroes throughout history; and After School Activities Partnership (ASAP,) which provides a variety of activities and games in schools, libraries and community centers all over the city.
Brown and his team first helped to publicize the efforts of Mighty Writers to break a world record by bringing together 3,000 students writing on the same prompt --"If I were President…," at the same place -- the Art Museum steps, at the same time. The project coincided with the Democratic National Convention.
As Brown worked with POP, they were organizing a holiday concert that took place around the time of the election. Students from diverse backgrounds came together to play music. Amidst a political atmosphere that divided communities, Brown and the POP team decided to call the student performance a holiday harmony concert.
"Having an orchestra come together at a time when it was contentious in community was a perfect opportunity for us to do something," Brown said.
Brown helped bring long-term sponsors to the Black Writers museum by publicizing their annual jazz fundraiser. He collaborated with ASAP to help them devise strategies to glean more support for their activities programs, a project that is still in progress.
The 40 Hours team put their creative feet forward in a very hands-on way to help these four organizations reach as wide of an audience as possible, with the limited time they had.
"Part of our challenge was to figure out how to take the 10 hours that we had to make the biggest impact, Brown said. "We can't do it all, but we also helped the clients to figure out how best to use something that they otherwise wouldn't have. My thing is that everybody can do something that's going to make an impact."