Media Sandbox and WKAR Awarded $500,000 from MSUFCU

A collective $500,000 has been awarded to the Media Sandbox and WKAR from the Michigan State University Federal Credit Union. The funding will bolster ComArtSci’s ongoing mission to support and engage the mid-Michigan and Spartan communities and provide new learning opportunities for ComArtSci students.

Growing Media Sandbox Street Teams

MSUFCU has gifted $250,000 to the Media Sandbox Street Teams, a student-run creative agency within ComArtSci. The funds, spread out over a 5-year period, will allow these interdisciplinary groups of students to continue and expand their partnership with local nonprofit organizations, providing real world learning opportunities for students while also giving back to the local community.

“Funding from MSUFCU offers students in the Media Sandbox new opportunities for experiential learning,” said Prabu David, dean of the College of Communication Arts and Sciences. “Street Teams will help nonprofit organizations communicate their services and needs to the people they serve.”

Street Teams mix students from different majors and disciplines, such as “video, writing and graphic design, and send them out to apply what they’ve learned in ComArtSci to the real world,” said Karl Gude, director of the Media Sandbox.

Up until this point, there has only been one or two Street Teams total. With the award from MSUFCU, Gude notes that he will now be able to increase the number of Street Teams at ComArtSci, providing students additional opportunities to make a difference in the local community.  

“The Street Teams have been limited in number because there was no real system in place to support and mentor them,” said Gude. “The funding from MSUFCU will help change that. We can now offer people incentives to oversee the Street Teams and help them navigate the waters of working with nonprofits.”

WKAR Leading Children’s Media Research and Content Creation

WKAR, already well-known for its strong schedule of early childhood educational programming, has also received $250,000 from MSUFCU over a 5-year period. With these funds, WKAR will lead children’s media research and content creation, and continue offering experiential learning opportunities for ComArtSci students.

“This is a transformative gift for WKAR, allowing us to advance our educational efforts in support of schools, parents, caregivers, and children in our community,” said Susi Elkins, general manager and director of broadcasting for WKAR. "We are grateful to MSUFCU for their commitment to education and their belief in our ability to make a difference with their support.”

“No other college or unit on campus has access to the community like WKAR," said Julie Sochay, WKAR content and community engagement manager. "With four TV stations, two radio stations, a website and digital streaming, WKAR is part of what makes Michigan’s Capital Region a vibrant community."

Consistently a leader in academics and media, the station often employs ComArtSci students for help behind the scenes with their news, radio and television programs. The station works with up 60 students each year. "The funding from MSUFCU will allow WKAR to expand this opportunity to even more ComArtSci students,” said Sochay.

In addition, the funds will allow WKAR to continue engaging the local community with its original programming. “WKAR has a long history of community engagement based on a strong schedule of early childhood educational programs,” said Sochay. “The MSUFCU gift will allow WKAR to grow our new WKAR Family educational platform, to offer more programming, content, and a focus backed by academic research and real world applications.”

More Growth and Community Involvement to Come

Thanks to the generosity of MSUFCU, both the Media Sandbox and WKAR expect to see a tremendous amount of growth and progress over the next five years. The money given will not only help continue the impactful work they already do for Michigan State University and the mid-Michigan community, but will also provide new avenues for ComArtSci students to learn real world skills they can take with them to their future careers.