Social Impact Studios is a place for creative people who want to make positive social change with their talents, skills and hard work. We find collaborative opportunities for visual designers, organizers, artists, photographers, writers, musicians, fabricators, canvassers . . . anything you can imagine that communicates “good.”

21 Yrs & Counting!

Moving to Action

Moving to Action

Anyone who knows me knows how much I love a good Action Plan… Read about our new 3-year plan to help our movement build toward 2020, “incubator” plans for The Public Image Workshop and the big news about our Studios move in April.

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Social Impact Studios

June 1, 1996

Telling Our Story

Photo of Ennis Carter at computerby Ennis Carter, Director

Social Impact grew out of a nonprofit background. I worked as an organizer for NJ Public Interest Research Group – running campaigns on voter registration and environmental protection. When you are an organizer, you learn to use your resources efficiently and do everything you can to get the word out. I suddenly found that I had a real love for graphic design to go along with my activism. Combining the two, I co-founded Public Interest GRFX, the in-house design department of the State PIRGs, based in Philadelphia. I continued my work as an “organizer” as I learned how to develop, design and promote a wide range of campaigns for all types of communities throughout the U.S. It was very exciting and very rewarding.

Computer on deskYet after working for 10 years with the PIRGs, I needed to expand my work and reach an even broader range of groups – focusing on a larger variety of issues. It saw a real need in the nonprofit community for great graphic design and advertising experience that came from people who knew nonprofits from the inside out. And I saw an opportunity to make an even bigger impact with what I had learned as an organizer.

So, I set up shop – this time as a small business owner – to serve that need and provide my craft to our community. 

January 1, 1997

Listen to Your Audience

Computer on desk with papersOriginally, “Design for Social Impact” was simply a slogan. But as people started using the phrase more than my name, we evolved into a full-fledged organization with a clear and distinct purpose. This process confirmed my belief in the power of audience perspective. Always listen to your audience. They will tell you everything you need to know when it comes to telling your story.

In early 1996, I set up shop in the corner of the bedroom in Center City for late nights in front of the computer while I continued to work part time for PIRG. What a great feeling – working with groups that were doing such good work in the community and around the country.

In 1997, I devoted my energy full time to Design for Social Impact. As momentum continued to grow, I realized that this dream was truly becoming a reality. The reach of my work was expanding to groups beyond Philadelphia – in Boston, DC and California. And these groups could see real results of the work we did together. Helping a group figure out how to tell their story and get attention for the good work they do is what motivates me the most and gives me a real sense of pride and accomplishment in our work together.

June 1, 2000


Studio seating area by windowBy 1998, we moved into a studio. Despite the mice and cold winters, it was a great place to start and brought me in contact with new friends and my first additions to our growing staff. We had a client roster of over 50 regular groups.

After working alone for so many years, it was such a welcome change and new challenge to work with new people. Kris, Carline, Savva and Jen really stuck with me as we learned how to go from being a one-person designer to a multi-staff design WORKSHOP!

In June, 2000 we relocated to our current space near busy South Street in Philly. We were lucky enough to add 2 more people to the family; Cara and Ben helped round out our staff and take Design for Social Impact to new heights. Throughout the years, we added several other people who are dedicated to this work – Rebecca, Rich & Kenny (who we hired from Metropolitan Career Council – one of our clients.) Kris went and came back after graduating with her Masters in Fine Arts. My brother Rick worked as an ace computer programmer for awhile too. Our work has been made even more powerful over the years by all of the good people who worked to make it happen: My parents, Harry & Jean, Phil, Xu-Dong, Stirling, Peter, Ann, Melinda, Alex, Ali, Nyo, James, Heather, Michelle and countless field staff, part timers, interns and volunteers.

In 2006 we celebrated 10 Years of Artistry & Activism (see our retrospective slide show below). Then, in 2007 we launched our own dedicated programming – getting back to our roots as organizers by bringing artistry & activism directly to the public through meaningful, educational and action-oriented projects and events. 

2017 marks our 21st Anniversary. Over the years, we’ve grown to represent the best of our abilities in both design and organizing. That’s why we decided to change our name from Design for Social Impact to Social Impact Studios in 2011. Through this public change, we celebrate a transition from being a process – to truly embracing our place in the movement of people working for positive social change.

June 1, 2006

10 Year Retrospective

January 23, 2017

Our Ethos

We run our Studio like a nonprofit and a family business. We are very dedicated to our work on the job and in our lives. We value experience and the sharing of ideas to grow personally and professionally. We host events to strengthen ties with our community and keep up on different issues. As individuals and an organization we participate in local activities and politics that build and promote a healthy, happy and vibrant neighborhoods and city overall.

As I look back on 21 years, I am reminded about some very important facets of Social Impact. The people here are dedicated to making this world a better place. The work we do has made a difference in the work of our clients. I know that to be true. Every day we strive for a fair and just society in our own way – through thoughtful, beautiful and meaningful work and I’m proud of what we’ve been able to achieve.

In loving memory of Rich Storlazzi, Merit Press. A true angel whose generosity and faith helped us survive in our early years!


Welcome Alia Abu Marzouq, Visual Designer

Welcome Alia Abu Marzouq, Visual Designer

We are excited to welcome Alia Abu Marzouq, as our new Visual Designer at Social Impact Studios. Alia will be creating the visual stories that help engage the public in important social issues. Alia came to America as an international student to study Advertising at...

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Welcome Cindy Ngo, Promotion Manager

Welcome Cindy Ngo, Promotion Manager

We are excited to welcome Cindy Ngo, as our new Promotion Manager at Social Impact Studios. Cindy will be working to get issues and stories out to the public and media through traditional & new media methods – and working directly with groups on their Promotion...

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I Belong to the Blank Generation

I Belong to the Blank Generation

In 1995, I was honored to be among the “30 Under 30” profiled in Philadelphia Magazine. For a new feature on GenX, they checked in to see how things have changed since then. Here’s what I shared with them.

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