After a year of making logos, pocketing a little extra money on the side, Walker Martin knew this time was different.
It was almost two years ago. He was a junior at Grimsley High, taking an entrepreneurship class taught by Atiba Bethea Sr. Known as “Mr. B” to his students, Bethea loved to prod his students to go beyond the expected. And they knew it.
All they had to do was take one of his classes or log onto his web page with Guilford County Schools, see the exclamation marks and read: “Anyone interested in taking one of my courses should prepare to step out of their comfort zone. My educational mission is to help all of my students go from good to great! Think about it!”
So, when The Enrichment Fund of Guilford County Schools needed a logo and created a countywide contest to encourage students to enter, Bethea was unabashed. He told his students they were going to get first – and second – place.
And Walker, well, he took that as a sign.
“I thought that was him saying, ‘Walker, win this,’” he says today. “And I did.”
Walker won first place – and $300 from The Enrichment Fund. Maab Mohamed, another one of Bethea’s students, came in second place and received $200 from The Enrichment Fund. And Bethea, the UNC-Greensboro grad and former NC Teaching Fellow, received $100.
“Mr. B is really good at pushing me and getting me to try my best,” Walker says. “It was cool for me to do that (the contest), and it was cool that Mr. B made some money, too.”
The Enrichment Fund, a non-profit started in 1993, is all about helping students and teachers.
It provides mini-grants to teachers to help fund classroom projects that enrich learning. It also gives scholarships to low-income students to give them a chance to participate in learning activities, such as field trips, that normally would be out of reach financially.
But after nearly a quarter-century helping students and teachers, The Enrichment Fund needed a logo that spoke to what the non-profit did, and two years ago, the non-profit offered Guilford County students prize money if they could come up with a logo that works.
But what would work?
Walker had no clue.
So, he camped out in his bedroom in front of the computer he made himself out of parts he bought from Amazon.com. He began to research and wondered what he would create about something he hardly knew anything about.
“Honestly, I was struggling at first,” Walker says. “It was like a blank slate. But I knew what I needed to do. I knew I needed to do as much research as I could. I looked all over The Enrichment Fund’s web site, trying to think what the vision of the whole organization was and this whole idea of growth.
“Well, I thought about how green represents growth and life and stuff like that, and at that point, things started to tie together.
“I knew I wanted to do something with a hand because I had this idea of lending a helping hand stuck in my head. Then, something clicked. I thought of a tree, and that’s when I took a picture of my hand on my phone.
“I’m a skinny dude, I’ve got long fingers, and my fingers looked like the branches of a tree, and I thought, ‘This looks kinda cool.’”
But a tree?
“The tree ended up making the most sense by how my hands looked,” he says. “And once I had to type a paper explaining the meaning behind it, it made even more sense.”
“When you think about the commitment of The Enrichment Fund,” Walker says, “it uses its position as an organization to help kids do all kinds of different things, and all that help for kids comes from one place.
“The Enrichment Fund is always lending a helping hand, and with the tree being The Enrichment Fund, the logo shows how it spreads out into the community.”
Makes sense, particularly when it comes to the history of The Enrichment Fund.
Since 1993, the non-profit has granted more than $1 million to students and teachers.
As for Walker, he turned his talent for making logos into a way to make extra money and make his monthly payments on his 2012 silver Volkswagen Golf.
But as for the $300 he received from winning the logo contest, he used it for something else.
The prize money helped pay for a mission trip to Jamaica with Westover Church. He and nearly 30 other church members spent a week building houses, renovating rooms, visiting clinics and playing with kids.
Today, that mission trip and The Enrichment Fund contest seem so long ago.
Walker is now a college student, he turns 18 in September, and he’s immersed in the next chapter of his life. Walker attends GTCC where he studies graphic design and works on beginning a career.
Walker has come a long way since his first stick figure.
He drew it when he was around 3. He doesn’t remember when. But that stick figure now hangs in his den, a testament to how he got started — and where he wants to go.
Mr. B did help. So did The Enrichment Fund. Walker now looks at the logo he designed for The Enrichment Fund, with his own skinny hand as a tree, and he sees how his own talent has definitely grown.
“That logo is something I can look back on, and to this day, I think, ‘Yeah,’” Walker says. “That is pretty cool.”