Innovate Dayton Leadership Team

The Leadership Team included both junior high and high school students. Jami knew that an authentic cultural transformation in her school would need to be guided by the students.

This team began to develop outreach initiatives, both within the school and in the community. One of their first challenges was to define the messaging for their campaign.

A Portland-based marketing firm agreed to help them. The students all got on a bus and spent an afternoon in a workshop led by Kerry, the firm’s CEO. She took them through the same brand-messaging process that she used for her corporate clients. The adult chaperones from Dayton sat quietly in the back of the room watching the students and Kerry engage in thoughtful discussion.

At one critical point in the discussion, Kerry asked the kids that if Innovate Dayton was successful, what might that success look like?

The adults in the room held their breath. Would it mean that these students, their kids, would finally be able to leave Dayton? For that was how success has often been defined for students in rural communities – that they can escape to cities where there are more opportunities.

But that is not what these Dayton students wanted. They wanted to stay in Dayton close to their families and in a community that they loved. Success for them was to have the opportunities of this new economy while still living in Dayton. They wanted to build this new opportunity in Dayton.

So the tagline for their marketing campaign quickly came together: “We are Dayton’s Future.”

Soon posters started appearing all over the school with photographs of different students that included a quote from each one of them, all under a common headline: "We are Dayton's Future."

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