At Mileage, our goal is to improve lives through design— which means we are designing for impact
building partnerships with organizations that empower us to bring innovative solutions to life, and we continuously work on services and experiences even after they are released to the world.
In Cuyahoga County, approximately 23,000 people experience homelessness every year. For many struggling with homelessness and addiction, feelings of chaos, confusion, and anxiety are a daily encounter.
Along came a non-profit organization called Community Service Alliance (CSA)— an organization providing safe spaces that provide a slower-moving environment, described by alumni as having the personal space to focus on healing and transformation.
The organization is very proud to say that Community Service Alliance is not a homeless shelter—they do not accept any public funding either. Here is how it works: Men located in Northeast Ohio that are at least 90 days sober can apply to join the CSA community. Once accepted, they meet with a team member to begin their journey with Community Service Alliance. Through the organization’s integrated programming, they cultivate personal, behavioral, and spiritual development, such as continued sobriety, personal wellness, financial stability, and the importance of giving back to the community.
Max grew up in Bainbridge, a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio. As a teenager, Max began using heroin and committing petty theft. After being in and out of county jail, Max was arrested in 2009 for aggravated robbery and sentenced to three years in prison.
Max grew up in Bainbridge, a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio. As a teenager, Max began using heroin and committing petty theft. After being in and out of county jail, Max was arrested in 2009 for aggravated robbery and sentenced to three years in prison. Max was released just before serving one year in prison and immediately got in touch with Community Service Alliance. Even through his setbacks, CSA was there to support Max through his journey to sobriety and kept encouraging him to come back. Equipped with strategies and a system to manage his addictions, he is working through an apprenticeship with the ironworkers union, has bought a house in Brecksville, and has a six-year-old son. In the future, he is considering going to college to get a degree in construction management.
Every resident is expected to enter into service to the community at some level of commitment and longevity. Receiving without guilt or shame, but also giving back without expectation of praise, gratitude, or repayment is central to our mission and our core value of contribution. Every resident at Community Service Alliance pays approximately $245 per month and receives their own room, along with a lock and key—something many of these men have not had in a very long time.
Mileage Design met for a discovery meeting with one of the founding members of Community Service Alliance—Barbara Jacobus— and began exchanging ideas around reimagining how people can support. Shortly after that, the Mileage Design team focused on making sure that every donor interaction with Community Service Alliance—from experiencing real stories online to using the giving platform for the 12th time—was straightforward and filled with hope and faith.
Designers worked to refine the organization’s brand vision, peer to peer fundraising strategy, and identity across channels and used this framework to completely redesign CSA’s website, as well as a private backend donation functionality.
The result was a set of tools that reflected a genuine understanding of the beautiful work being done, day after day, by the team, a well-articulated mission, and a human-centered approach. Community Service Alliance is still one of the only independent organizations in the area that is helping previously homeless men transform their lives without public funding.