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New program pairs students with nonprofits

A pilot program launched at Emerson College last semester paired Communication Studies students with nonprofit organizations that needed help raising awareness about their programs. Students gained practical experience in creating communication products for real clients, and the clients gained innovative ideas, enthusiasm, and final products for their organizations.

Students presented their completed client projects in class.

The program was part of several sections of Argument and Social Advocacy, a required class for Communication Studies and Political Communication majors at Emerson. Students worked with 16 nonprofit organizations and provided a range of services based on what the organizations needed most to reach their audiences. Students established social media campaigns, created brochures, developed electronic newsletters, and produced videos.

Kassandra King '15 worked with classmates to revamp a social media program and create a short promotional video for Project Place, an organization that helps homeless and low-income individuals by providing the skills, education, and resources to obtain stable employment and housing.

“I had an amazing experience with Project Place,” King said. “I met with the publicity people and I also got to meet with the people that the project was affecting….These people are incredible and their stories are incredible. I really liked having the opportunity to tell their stories,” she continued. King is planning to stay on with Project Place as an intern.

Lily Joynes '15, whose group worked with ABCD Housing and Homeless Prevention on developing a new brochure, said that she learned a lot about working with clients through the project. After her group created a design they were satisfied with, the client wanted some changes to the graphics and colors that Joynes said she didn’t think were necessary.

“But you have to please the client, regardless of if you think that’s what’s best or not,” she said. “I’m really proud that I have something I can put in my portfolio and can say ABCD is actually handing it out at its meetings.”

To develop the real-world component for the new course, Communication Studies Scholar-in-Residence Cathy Edelstein, the Dean of the School of Communication Janis Andersen, and Chair of Communication Studies Rich West collaborated with Associate Professor Michael Weiler and adjunct faculty member Kathi-Anne Reinstein (also a State Representative), who co-taught the class. Edelstein was the liason between the students, faculty, and nonprofit organizations.

View some of the student video projects:

Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health 

Massachusetts Advocates for Nursing Home Reform 

Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood


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