MVIFI’s #fuse16 partners with four organizations of Plywood People

“We will be known by the problems we solve.” – Plywood People

Building on the success of MVIFI’s ambitious mission with #fuse15 to impact Atlanta through design thinking, #fuse16 plans to make another ambitious moonshot this year. At the annual design thinking experience, this year happening June 15-17, we have three major goals:

  1. Make an impact in an issue alongside several Atlanta nonprofits
  2. Learn design thinking as a practitioner, rather than in a “classroom” setting
  3. Model the possibilities and opportunities for doing school differently

For 2016, we’ve partnered with four organizations affiliated with Plywood People to crowdsource solution seeking and problem solving for their social innovations in Atlanta.

Plywood People’s motto: “We will be known by the problems we solve” is something our team strives to live out in practice. In fact, that’s how we’ve designed the core experience of fuse16 this year, to put conference goers in the problem solving position as designers and change agents working on behalf of the city of Atlanta.  Read more about our four nonprofit partners here:


Love Beyond Walls “exist(s) to raise awareness of societal needs through technology and storytelling, and mobilize people to take part in it.” This Atlanta-based organization began in 2013 when Terence Lester  made it his mission to raise awareness about social injustices such as homelessness, poverty in education, and food insecurity across Atlanta. Within the last year, Love Beyond Walls launched their first Mobile Makeovers Bus and converted it into a Barbershop/Closet/Hygiene Station to serve those who live on the margins. Their concept to preserve dignity for hundreds of low income families across the Atlanta area made such a tremendous impact, and they continue to do the kind of work that creates opportunities for homeless people around Atlanta to find the resources they need. Love Beyond Walls continues to restore dignity to those who are displaced, but also strives to become a more seamless bridge between people in need and service providers. Sometimes all people need is investment, a bridge, direction, and a voice. Love Beyond Walls provides that voice and serves as an advocate and a beacon of hope for those that need it most.


Go Paint Love was founded in 2013 by Aaron and Julie Ann McKevitt.  They both recognized the strong therapeutic benefits art can have on students, yet they realized there was a lack of artistic resources for youth.  Out of that need, grew Paint Love’s’ mission:  “connecting artists & nonprofits for a positive impact on youth.” Since its inception, Paint Love has enjoyed fulfilling its mission by bringing art classes and donations to organizations throughout metro Atlanta. Why Paint? To paint means to cover. Just as an artist covers their canvas in color, this organization aims to cover those they serve with love. The word paint denotes action, and this organization is clearly taking action to make a difference in the lives of youth. Why Love?  Regardless of profession, all people are called, first and foremost, to love others. Love provides a fertile ground for positive change and growth to happen. And in the context of art, it provides a safe environment for self-expression, acceptance, and even emotional healing. Paint Love aims to bring these benefits to others. That’s why they’re assembling incredibly talented artists, generous individuals, and community organizations —to paint love through the powerful gift of art.


Refuge Coffee operates in Clarkston, Ga – “the most diverse square mile in the world.” They have a bold and audacious dream: a more vibrant Clarkston, one where refugees have opportunities to thrive. Where they move from survival in their first days here to building a life. Where people from greater Atlanta and beyond discover the multi-textured beauty of a global culture right here in our own backyard. An estimated 60 countries and almost as many languages are represented in Clarkston and many of these neighbors are refugees with needs for job training and a general sense of home. Refuge Coffee was launched in 2015 with three goals in mind:

  1. Buy the coolest coffee truck in town to be operated by immigrant trainees – DON
  2. Build a coffee shop that reflects the diversity of Clarkston and offers training for resettled refugees – IN PROGRES
  3. Make Refuge Coffee even better by roasting beans in house while providing more job opportunities for resettled refugees – IN PROGRESS.

Join Refuge in their mission of empowering our refugee friends to use their many gifts to help this incredible community create refuge for many.


Wilderness Works is a child’s positive alternative to the negative influences of an impoverished life. Through experiential, recreational and outdoor adventures, children develop a sense of self-worth and empowerment that helps them overcome the issues of abandonment and esteem that typically accompany living with economic disadvantages in an urban setting. Even though they are based at City Camp near the Atlanta Zoo, they serve homeless and at-risk children throughout Dekalb and Fulton counties. Chaperoned overnight stays on weekends are spent right at City Camp, which was originally the girls and boys dormitories occupied by the Immanuel Bible College. This safe haven provides a mentored social peer group, excursions that both teach and reach, and hot meals – all of which are important in the young lives the camp serves. But when school breaks come around, the exploits of the Wilderness Works campers go far and wide – to the campgrounds found in the mountains and beaches of Georgia and North Carolina, and sometimes even further. All to create memories and experiences that will serve as waypoints during the critical moments of their lives. “Children eagerly seek and respond to Wilderness Works – an indispensable community resource that effectively channels at-risk children toward a bright and productive future.”

Each unique organization has an incredible mission and vision for what the future could be, and their founders undoubtedly approach their work with overflowing hearts. We continue to be inspired by these organizations’ bold dreams, and we cannot wait to partner with all of our new design thinkers and doers to help create an even greater impact on the city of Atlanta and ultimately help these four organizations make reality their moonshots.


Blasts from the past:

Want to learn more about the history and trajectory of fuse? Check out mvifi.org/fuse and the five blog posts from #fuse15

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