URBAN OUTFITTERS

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Description: Most weekday afternoons, you'll find Paul Ayala in his Manhattan studio, drawing furiously with a blue Magic Marker. Ayala is part of Sweat Equity Enterprises (SEE), a three-year-old nonprofit that partners professional designers with low-income students in New York and Rhode Island. He was a gang member until SEE grabbed his attention. But SEE isn't just another do-gooder organization trying to offer poor, urban kids a more alluring option than gang membership. What's unusual about this operation is that its benefits may be even more lucrative for the corporate designers and marketers who partner with it. Working with SEE can yield insights that designers and marketers wouldn't think of. For instance, the sportswear maker New Era has asked SEE to help choose colors and patterns for a collection of caps, but the students go beyond the purely aesthetic. The designers need to be careful about the code of the street. Certain colors imply certain gangs.
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