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Unlocking Social Impact: The Medill Cause Marketing Initiative (CMI)

Have you heard of the Medill Cause Marketing Initiative (CMI)?

If not, it’s time to get acquainted with this powerhouse of impact-driven marketing right here at Northwestern University.

With more than 100 students and 15 clients, this year CMI has the largest cohort of students involved. 

What is CMI?

CMI isn’t just any student-run committee; it’s a force for good in the community. Since its founding in 2008, CMI has been dedicated to providing pro-bono marketing services for non-profit organizations in the Chicago area. Led by graduate students in Northwestern’s Integrated Marketing Communications program, CMI leverages classroom knowledge to tackle real-world challenges faced by non-profits.

What Does CMI Do?

From brand strategy to digital marketing and public relations, CMI offers a wide range of services aimed at amplifying the voices of non-profits. By partnering with organizations like the American Legion, Lambs Farm and Openlands, CMI helps them extend their reach and deepen their impact within the community.

In 2023, CMI made waves with its transformative work for Sarah’s Circle, a nonprofit organization with a mission of serving women who are homeless or in need of a safe space in Chicago. By redesigning marketing materials and crafting an innovative social media strategy, CMI elevated Sarah’s Circle’s brand and bolstered its donor relationships, leaving a lasting impact on the organization and the lives it touches.

CMI is currently collaborating with Lambs Farm, an organization dedicated to enhancing the lives of individuals with developmental disabilities, on a transformative rebranding project. With a focus on dispelling misconceptions and elevating awareness of its mission, Lambs Farm seeks to transition to “The Lambs” and revamp its branding across various touchpoints. CMI’s role involves crafting a comprehensive marketing strategy, developing rebranding content and conducting a social media audit to support Lambs Farm in communicating its impact effectively to the community. 

Meet the Minds Behind CMI

Behind CMI’s success are the dedicated individuals who drive its mission forward. From program management to client partnerships and communications, CMI’s executive board is a diverse team of passionate IMC graduate students committed to making a difference.

“The CMI Team for 2024 is working on a range of causes from education to veteran welfare. Our student teams are extremely passionate and hoping to make a difference wherever possible. Small steps, together, will ensure large impact.” – Anoushka Jaipuria, CMI Program Director ’24.

“Being part of CMI means turning passion into purpose. Every project is an opportunity to make a difference, to amplify voices, and to leave a lasting impact.” – Laila Sofia Garza Kamar, CMI 2024 External Communications Director ’24.

Connect with CMI


Instagram: @medillcmi


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Medill Announces New Bay Area Alumni Club Leadership Board

Medill welcomes three alumni to serve as board members of the new-and-improved Medill Club of the Bay Area.  Maria Hunt, Carly Schwartz and Chanel Vargas will provide expert guidance and local assistance with programming, including local events and communications.

As Medill continues to grow its presence in San Francisco and more students are spending time in Northwestern’s satellite campus at 44 W. Montgomery, we hope to expand our alumni programming thematically – and geographically. With the Covid exodus from downtown still echoing, we will be looking to host events outside of central San Francisco, where many Medillians reside and work.

We need your help. If you have an idea for an outing or event, please post a note to the Medill Club of the Bay Area Facebook page or send an email to me at and I’ll share with the board.

Similarly, if you are willing to speak to, or better yet, host students at your company, we are always looking for off-site opportunities for both our journalism and integrated marketing communications students.

More about our new club leaders:

Maria is a California-based journalist, brand content strategist and author with two book credits: “The Bubbly Bar” and “Tanya Holland’s California Soul: Recipes from a Culinary Journey West.”

While earning her degree from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, Maria learned about designing and managing high end culinary events, fine French and Italian wines and the art of bartending. These experiences prepared Maria for a career as an award-winning food journalist and restaurant critic at the San Diego Union-Tribune.

In the Bay Area, Maria has created successful content and social media marketing programs to drive revenue and engagement for brands including Houzz, Rodan + Fields, and One Medical.  She designs cultural and educational events for Northwestern University alumni and students, as well as writing cultural stories for The Guardian, Dwell, OLTRE, Architectural Digest, The Wall Street Journal and Esquire. Maria shares her wine and food adventures, new recipes and pairing ideas on her website, the and on Instagram @thebubblygirl.

Carly is a writer, editor, and media entrepreneur with nearly two decades of experience as a professional storyteller. She’s currently a consultant with Google’s moonshot division, and she served as editor in chief of the San Francisco Examiner and founding editor of HuffPost’s SF bureau. Her writing has appeared in Quartz, VICE News, GOOD magazine, San Francisco magazine, and Burning Man’s Black Rock Beacon, among other outlets, and Editor & Publisher magazine named her one of ten “women to watch” in 2021. Her first book, a memoir about her adventures overcoming addiction and depression while living in two very different communes, will be released later this year. She lives in San Francisco’s Mission District with her best friend, a three-year-old Boston terrier named Nacho.

Chanel is a journalist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. After graduating from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism in 2017, Chanel served as a breaking news writer in Hearst Digital Media’s New York office. Following her stint in NYC, Chanel returned home to California and carved out her beat in the wellness and entertainment space. Her work can be found in various publications including POPSUGAR, Well + Good, Harper’s Bazaar, Cosmopolitan, Elle, SELF, Town & Country, Bustle, and more. When she’s not writing and reporting, Chanel loves taking long nature walks, exploring the SF food scene, reading novels, and performing improv comedy with her house team.

Want to help with events and club programming? E-mail