Mode Project lands Gold Davey Award

After School Matters alumnus Darrius Thomas

After School Matters alumnus Darrius Thomas

Creative studio’s
After School Matters
fundraising video
honored by
Academy of
Interactive and
Visual Arts

Mode Project taps into the human experience in a way that captures minds, hearts, and awards.

In recognition of the Chicago-based design and production studio’s outstanding work, the Academy of Interactive and Visual Arts recently presented Mode Project with a Davey Award.

The Academy’s members are visual arts professionals from leading media, advertising and marketing firms. Its 2018 Davey competition attracted thousands of entries from the world’s best small creative shops — the Davids who wield big ideas that more than measure up to the visual and interactive brawn of industry Goliaths.

Mode Project earned a gold Davey in the Charitable / Not-For-Profit Video category for its work with After School Matters, an organization that provides life-changing after-school and summer program opportunities for Chicago high school students.

After School Matters called on Mode Project to create an inspiring video for the organization’s most important fundraiser, its annual gala.



Mode Project’s creative team developed and delivered the video from concept through delivery. Like their clients ranging from start-ups to major brands, Mode Project established a true partnership with the After School Matters leadership team through the back-and-forth of creative conversations.

Together, they identified the perfect voices for the story: two young men with big ideas and big dreams, supported by their dedicated mentors and the resources of After School Matters.

“We gain a deep understanding of our clients’ communication goals from the start of a project,” Mode Project Creative Director Brooks Ruyle said, explaining his team’s approach. “This understanding informs every subsequent stage of the project, ensuring that our work has relevance, focus, urgency and drive.”

As the After School Matters video reveals, the young men overcame the obstacles and eventually realized their dreams.

More immediately, the fundraiser was a great success.

“It is such a motivating and all-around wonderful experience working with MODE on our videos,” said Michael Crowley, Senior Director of Communications and Policy at After School Matters. “Their entire team internalizes our vision and mission, and that’s why they are able to tell such impactful, personal, and moving stories about our work. This video in particular was the highlight of our Gala. I still have people comment to me about how they’ll never forget this story.”

After School Matters
After School Matters

The audience became totally invested in the story, too. In fact, they donated more than $3 million, to ensure that more young lives can be impacted, and in turn, more success stories can be told in the years ahead.

“We are honored to receive the Davey Award, and we are even more honored to receive the trust our clients,” Mode Project Principal Colin Carter said. “This marked our third collaboration with After School Matters for their gala fundraiser, and we’ve continued to work with them on other videos as well.”

A familiar narrative, freshly told, captures the essence of Mode Project’s mission: Believe in the power of storytelling, dream big, and do some good along the way.

About Mode Project
Mode Project is a nimble and versatile creative team that partners with brands, agencies, causes and organizations to translate ideas into engaging, relevant video content. As a full-service studio, we use design, 2D / 3D animation, live-action filmmaking and storytelling to make authentic and emotional connections with audiences.

About After School Matters
The inspiration for After School Matters arose more than two decades ago from the desire of then-Chicago First Lady Maggie Daley and former Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs Commissioner Lois Weisberg to develop cultural activities for the city’s teenagers. To learn more, click here.