Key Medium Supports Philadelphia’s Frontline and Regional Partners During the Pandemic

When it comes to excellence in community service, few digital agencies are more recognized than Key Medium. For six-plus weeks initially, I did not take my salary so that the Key Medium can continue to deliver pro bono projects and to ensure that our partners were paid on time. We’ve won over forty-three awards in the last two years, six of which were during the coronavirus pandemic in the past month. Our continued successes, measured by impact on people-first and then how we drive value and growth, are due to our close collaboration with our amazing partners.

We are working to strengthen initiatives, partnerships, and efforts for Greater Philadelphia’s workforce and food systems during this crucial time. We are also working with education providers to secure our City’s future, as well as strengthening various partner efforts and new initiatives. Our efforts were recently featured alongside Verizon as an inspiring story in our business community; give it a read!

Some of our digital efforts are listed below and a lot of our past two months’ work has been pro bono.

Grounded in Philly

This high-interest project is all about bringing green spaces back to each Philadelphia neighborhood. As Philadelphia’s resource ecosystem, we built this platform to promote access to land for purposes of alleviating food insecurity, poverty, and to improve the overall community’s health through greater open green space and community gardening spaces.

Urban Agriculture Philadelphia

There are tons of resources on the site, and we have continued our collaboration with the urban agriculture community to make resources available to growers during the pandemic, and even well before it. It was relaunched and rebranded, pro bono, for the Public Interest Law Center’s Garden Justice Legal Initiative just over a year ago.

Coding for Causes is Key Medium’s way of devoting time to the local community. We give time and in-kind donations to local projects through this program. Many of them are about food security, and we also work with career development and various other civic programs.

Our award-winning work with Grounded in Philly was done through our Coding for Causes program, which just added yet another award to recognize our creative work. It was recently recognized with a Silver in the 2020 Muse Creative Awards competition hosted by International Awards Associate.

Philly Food Finder

Food insecurity, or when people don’t know where their next meal will come from, affects many people in large cities. One of the main problems is finding food that is already available for those in need, as well as the assistance programs available like Meals on Wheels for Senior Citizens and SNAP/WIC benefits for families. During the same time we embarked on the Grounded in Philly initiative in 2018, we also noticed a broken Through our Coding for Causes program, we provided the technical support for Philly Food Finder to relaunch so that it may actually be usable and accessible. We teamed up with FPAC/The Mayor’s Office of Sustainability in late 2018 to make this project a reality, re-launching December 2018 in its second iteration.

Then, more recently, the Mayor’s Office lost a key staff person and, while the project was well-received, the City did not have the will or resources to sustain it. We happily took it over with no support and embarked on a rebrand and redesign for its now third iteration. Initially slated for a start date during the Summer, the Coronavirus pandemic saw a 10X jump in traffic. We naturally decided to respond, and in four days we launched the rebrand and redesigned Philly Food Finder on March 23rd, 2020, which happened to be the same day as the State of Pennsylvania and Philadelphia’s stay-at-home order. Here’s how it looks now:

Philly Food Finder

We also created a ‘get involved’ page to help the area’s largest food bank, Share Food Program, gain more volunteers to support their efforts to distribute food in overdrive to 40 sites. Not just that, but Key Medium’s Ali Jaffar and former Director of Project Delivery and sustainability expert Meghan Grever also provided a free consultation to the food bank, which directly led to the transformation of their volunteer management process, which integrated with their donor management system, and saved potentially tens of thousands (vs. if they were to develop their own volunteer management tool, which is what we were initially asked to consult on). It was important their volunteers integrated with the donor management system since a finding was that volunteers turn into donors.

The results? The Philly Food Finder website has seen a tremendous 94% reduction in bounce rate (the lower the better, since it means higher engagement) from March 23, 2020, to April 20, 2020! See web analytics, compared vs the same time period, last year (March 23, 2019, to April 20, 2019):

Website analytics to accurately portray the improvement in user experience and to show the increased demand thanks to the pandemic

To top it off, Philly Food Finder was also recognized with a Silver in the 2020 Muse Creative Awards competition hosted by International Awards Associate. Credit also goes to Destiny Simmons, former freelance Digital Designer at Key Medium, for the brand identity design, and for supporting the effort following a streamlined design sprint.

Community Integrated Services

This is a creative employment agency, the largest in both Pennsylvania and Delaware, which enables people to find employees who face obstacles. They provide career transitions, job placement, and job support for people. Through our Coding for Causes program, Key Medium became a community partner, alongside organizations like BNY Melon and Target.

One of their major areas of work is helping to find supported employment for people with disabilities. They have remained on the job with these folks through the COVID-19 crisis, albeit in a substantially leaner capacity as they are a direct service provider.

While they have also stayed on the job during the pandemic, Key Medium noticed that the website we previously donated did not have resources for individuals with disabilities (and their caregivers) to help them during the pandemic. So, we proactively reached out and built out a resource center for individuals with special needs immediately.

Community Integrated Services

The entire Community Integrated Services website was created pro bono by Key Medium and we are incredibly proud of our work with this agency. It was also recently recognized with a Silver in the 2020 Muse Creative Awards competition hosted by International Awards Associate and has won multiple other awards last year.

Philadelphia Works

Key Medium helped Philadelphia Works’ website become a reality, initially with a Coding for Causes discount during 2018-2019. We continue to be a mission-critical partner to fully propel the mission of the agency forward. They are a quasi-governmental nonprofit organization and official workforce development board of Philadelphia which also manages the local PA CareerLink Philadelphia centers, which had to close during the stay-at-home order.

This agency provides help for over a thousand businesses who want to recruit workers and build out talent pipelines, for example.

They also provide career development resources to support tens of thousands of workers every year through the four main PA CareerLink centers.

Philadelphia careers

During the pandemic, we continued to offer our support towards the mission of strengthening access to the opportunity to work and to support essential hires for the many businesses like Instacart, Amazon, and various healthcare organizations that need personnel. We stepped in to support their rapid response efforts with specific resources for businesses.

For workers, we created COVID resources as well as launched a new Career Seeker Virtual Resource Center. To improve the job seeker experience, we implemented self-help features and enhanced website personalization to support anxious career seekers.

Career Resources in Philadelphia

Community Learning Center

This is a brand-new website that we are supporting through Coding for Causes to help bring educational opportunities to Philadelphians. As one of the State’s leading literacy and learning centers, their mission is to empower adults in Philadelphia that are facing economic disadvantage with the academic and employment skills necessary to realize their fullest potential at home and in the workforce.

This learning center provides second-language tutoring, GED prep, adult literacy, and other educational programs to improve lives and career opportunities. They have been around since 1987, working towards a Philadelphia where all adults possess the education and employment necessary to thrive.

Key Medium is happy to partner with the learning center and we just launched their new website this week! Check it out:

Adult education in Philadelphia, digital literacy, and GED education

Philadelphia Workforce Impact Analysis

This was a pro bono analysis in a supporting role that we completed for the city’s workforce system. We helped analyze the impact on workers and also connect with various leading nonprofits, an economic think tank, a handful of City departments, and various civic partners like Boxplot Analytics and longtime Code for Philly member Salas Saraiya.

We are committed at Key Medium to securing workforce support for Philadelphia, with a keen eye on racial equity and inclusive opportunity and growth for all Philadelphians. Though we began working with the workforce system before the COVID-19 pandemic, we fostered enhanced collaboration and provided rapid response technical services to propel support to all workers so that we emerge as a more resilient and equitable region.

Help Slow COVID-19

While this project wasn’t done through Coding for Causes, it is an amazing launch that we are very proud of. It was built in 24 hours exactly. Launched on March 12, one day after the pandemic was announced by the World Health Organization, this award-winning site was made in conjunction with our NJ partners.

The effects of the public health crisis began only a day after the pandemic was announced by the World Health Organization. With this site, we are proud to support the health of individuals everywhere. To top it off, Help Slow COVID-19 reached over two-thousand executives, public health officials, and residents. It was recognized with a Gold in the 2020 Muse Creative Awards competition hosted by International Awards Associate.

Help Slow COVID-19

Navigate, our Professional Employer Partner

Having to furlough many of their nearly two-thousand person workforce may not have been that easy. So, we proactively stepped in to help how we can. While embarking on our efforts to Navigate, we completely shifted focus to supporting Navigate to communicate the uncertainty to their work family. We didn’t stop there, we also supported the publishing of a half-dozen pieces related to COVID relief and important information. These tips help small business and also includes feature pieces like an easy-to-digest article on the new Payroll Protection Program and the Employer Retention Tax Credit.

As a fellow socially-responsible business that supports nonprofits that help children, Navigate is an exemplary PEO located in Massachusetts. If you are looking to save money on health insurance, minimize employer liability, and alleviate the transactional HR work that may be burdening you or your team, check them out!

Future Works PHL

Future of Work for Philadelphia - logo design by Key Medium

As COVID continued to increase accelerating change, we donated nearly $10K worth of services, including a portion of the initial website design and development, as well as user research and brand identity design, and helped to fund the establishment of a new think tank/coalition towards ‘future-proofing’. Initially, the relationship with the Founder of Future Works, Anne, was through the City’s Office of Workforce Development during March/April of 2020, until she was laid off after that office reconfigured from 36 or so people to 3-4. Key Medium later supported the work we developed and provided her with our proposal initially approved by the City, repurposed to secure funding from Accenture, as well as creating the foundation to successfully recruit more than 4 dozen members as a result of our collaboration. Now, and as a Founding Member alongside the Federal Resource Bank of Philadelphia, our client Philadelphia Works, Tech Impact, Philadelphia OIC, Hopeworks, The Economy League of Greater Philadelphia, and more, we are glad to be able to network and meet future-minded leaders towards establishing regional change to prepare our region for the future of work. The initiative was successfully formed in record time and was successfully funded by both organizations, individual Founding Members, and institutions and via a CSR program by Accenture.


Key Medium wants to lead change in our community. We donate twenty percent of our profits, mostly via in-kind services and with some cash. Through our Coding for Causes program, well over 250K people have been impacted since 2017. We increased our support this year by nearly 400% to invest in better outcomes for people by supporting community-based organizations, regional initiatives, and continuing to form strategic affiliations and collaborations. You can see more on our nonprofit design portfolio.

Our community has been able to find workforce support through access to opportunity, and they have been able to find food and learn about how to access assistance programs, along with land access, for example.

Like all cities, the historic city of Philadelphia has special needs and we are delighted to call it home. When it comes to securing career development, adult education, and food sourcing for individuals and families, there are barriers to overcome and we use technology to help people improve their lives, that of their loved ones, and their family–strengthening the overall community as a whole.

By addressing change with people-first solutions, Key Medium seeks to demonstrate leadership and have a positive impact on our community that truly lasts. We also work to influence policy as well as create strong, collaborative local networks that help benefit the entire city and are aware that a Digital Divide exists and are working in the background to eliminate lack of access to technology with our partners.

We are a triple-bottom-line (TBL) business. We are also Philadelphia’s most socially impactful agency, pound-for-pound. We are very proud of the efficiency of our services, our role in improving our community, and are optimistic about the growing resiliency of Philadelphians.

How Much Does It Cost To Provide Services?

With Key Medium, our team and company dollars go further. It costs us a dime on the dollar to help one family find food, learn about food benefits, find an education program, or learn about a career path. We believe that our hard work in this area is paying off, even if we don’t have hard indicators of a return in terms of profit. Our human-centered, strengths-based approach is centered around the United Nations SDGs and our ROI+I model, or return on investment + impact, meaning we seek value, growth, and impact as a triple-bottom-line business.

By streamlining our efforts and working with organizations that are invested in our community, we know that we can continue our work in social innovation and the social impact space. Our pound-for-pound impact is hard to beat.

International Recognition

While we focus on local development, Key Medium competes internationally. In the last 24 months alone, we have competed in 12 different international competitions. In total, we took home more than 51 creative awards. That’s a lot of paperweights and, in recent years, earns us the position as Philly’s top recognized digital agency!

Regional Recognition

We’ve also received local recognition from the Chambers of Commerce of Greater Philadelphia, as well as from UpCity as a local excellence winner, from DC-based research firm Clutch for being top 10 for web development in Pennsylvania, a feature from GoodFirms for being a top branding company in America, and more recently a feature by as a Top 16 Marketing Agency in Philadelphia.

People inspire us to do better every day and we are excited about what the future holds at Key Medium! We know that with diligent and focused efforts to help people locally, we can pave the way for a better future for every Philadelphian.

If you’d like to collaborate, please get in touch here, explore our digital services, see more of our recent web design work for nonprofit organizations, and find free growth tips and insights in our Growth Library.

This post was recently updated February 2021.

Web Developer, UX Designer, Communicator, Brand Strategist and Search and Conversion Optimization Expert in Philadelphia

Ali Jaffar has been building dazzling websites and creating amazing online experiences for over a decade. His mastery of the latest innovations in web development results in world-class website experiences set apart by show-stopping style and seamless functionality. A highly sought-after consultant—and 50-time award-winning storyteller, UX expert, and web developer—Ali lends his talents to build and bolster digital experiences for a wide array of clients, with a keen focus on web design for nonprofit organizations. When Ali’s not helping his clients grow or providing pro bono services via his Coding For Causes program, you can find him exploring beautiful open spaces with his dog, working on side projects like the new Good Jobs Guide, or writing pieces about technology and the world on Huge Thinking. Follow Ali on Twitter @al1meister or connect with him on LinkedIn.