Written by Francie King

Caldera is the simple notion that when you show someone the power of their own creativity, it suddenly feels like anything is possible.” A non-profit organization dedicated to supporting underserved youth by getting them outside and into the arts, Caldera was founded in 1996 by Dan Wieden after he noticed a lack of diversity at his advertising agency, Wieden+Kennedy. With further research, he found that many local students were not afforded opportunities to unleash their creativity due to lack access to resources and a decreasing emphasis on arts education, thus affecting their later career choices. Caldera has been working to close this gap ever since. Growing from a small summer camp into a year-round program serving 430 students annually in Portland and Central Oregon with a full-time staff of 20 in addition to a roster of part-time seasonal help. Caldera begins working with youth in sixth grade and commits to supporting them for seven years–throughout middle school, high school, and into early adulthood.

Each year, Caldera integrates more than 100 professional youth mentors, artists (including the annual participants of its renowned Artists in Residence program), and environmental specialists who provide students a variety of opportunities to learn from and connect with a range of positive adult role models. This supportive, diverse community nurtures creativity and ignites self-expression.

Photo of Camp Caldera.
Photo of Camp Caldera.

Caldera’s Communications Director Elia Unverzagt explains the specialness of the organization: “Caldera is a space that allows youth to create their ideal selves. We provide the tools (whether software, hardware, musical instruments, or old-fashioned crayons and paint) as well as a supportive community. The students bring their unique perspectives and voices and the creativity just flows. The heart of our programming is Camp Caldera at our Arts Center, where students leave their day-to-day lives and join us for eight to ten days of a life-changing summer camp experience.”

When at Camp Caldera, students are urged to slow down, be open, and try things outside of their comfort zone. They leave their phones and their friends behind, and their sole focus is to create and explore. In today’s busy, connected world we all need to find balance between the digital and analog.

Growing Smartly and Strategically

Unverzagt says, “I work for a creative organization, but my work is very strategic. I need to tell the stories of our campers and artists simply and clearly in order to get the word out and raise funds so we can not only maintain current services, but continue to grow.” All hands are on deck on her small team, so Unverzagt utilizes tools to create more impact in her hectic day.

“My Bamboo Fineline 2 lets me mark-up PDFs on my iPad with the feel of pen on paper. I can also pair my stylus with Autodesk SketchBook and visualize events or begin designing invitations or other public facing materials quickly and easily.” Bamboo Fineline 2’s pressure-sensitivity combined with its fine tip, allows it to provide a natural stylus-on-screen experience. This smart stylus is made for the person on the move, and Unverzagt most certainly doesn’t maintain a typical 9 to 5 schedule.

Elia Unverzagt in Caldera's conference room.
Elia Unverzagt in Caldera’s conference room.

Non-profit work isn’t easy, but it’s fulfilling. Using tools to create workflows that work is the key to Unverzagt’s success. She empowers employees and teammates to be their best by allowing them to focus on their strengths. “I work at Caldera because I believe in the power of creativity.” Unverzagt says, “There are amazing, unique ideas and voices within all of us and it is a gift to work alongside innovative, caring adults to create space for youth to express themselves and their creativity.”

For more information on Caldera, click here.

For more information on Bamboo Fineline 2, click here.