Street Teams is a collaborative effort, made possible by a generous donation from MSUFCU, between undergraduate, Michigan State University students and local non-profit groups. The students gain professional, hands-on experience in media strategizing with a company, while the non-profit groups gain a new perspective on their current media efforts. In groups of 4-6, students spend a school year learning how to work together and prepare new media spaces for non-profit organizations. At the end of the Spring Semester, students present what they have created, taking into account what the non-profit desires and their academic requirements, to their friends and family, along with the non-profit groups.
This past 2021-2022 school year, 31 MSU students volunteered to be a part of Street Teams and, in total, dedicated around 2,000 hours to their respective projects. With the unpredictable nature of COVID-19 and what that means to educational programs, Jeana-Dee Allen, manager of Street Teams and academic specialist in the Department of Journalism, discussed what this meant for this year's participating students. “We’re still in a pandemic, still meeting, still masked, and that in and of itself was like starting a new program. The students came together and found new ways to connect, overcoming an awkwardness that I had not observed before. Overall, Street Teams surprised these students by challenging them in ways they hadn’t been challenged in the last two years, along with building friendships that will last outside of the program,” said Allen. While COVID-19 presented challenges in this program, students worked hard to provide quality material for this year’s non-profit groups which included: Mikey 23, Greater Lansing Foodbank, Small Talk, Lansing Art Gallery and Education Center, R.E. Olds Transportation Museum, and Allen Neighborhood Center. After each group and non-profit were paired together, the students began creating, collaborating and learning.
Team Electric, which consisted of five students, presented new media strategies for the non-profit Mikey 23. This non-profit is in memory of Michael McKissic II, a construction worker who passed away at the age of 23. Its overall goal is to provide education and training in skilled trades, with the hopes of providing to anyone who wants it, the skills to have a lifelong career. Students utilized their mission to work on reorganizing their website, along with creating a brand guide and promotional video that accurately reflects the core ideas of Mikey 23.
Team Golden, composed of six students, worked to highlight the Greater Lansing Foodbank’s impacts and improvements to their local community. One of the challenges these students tackled was to create a print campaign that showcased the effect the non-profit has on the greater Lansing area, including its programs such as the Garden Project, Produce Distributions, Mobile Distributions and SNAP outreach. Each of these programs provides resources to either learn about nutrition or receive nutritious foods. With these resources in mind, and their ability to help many people in the seven counties the Greater Lansing Foodbank serves, it was important that the team work on educating the community about these opportunities. Therefore, a video was created that demonstrated their mission and programs, along with highlighting their new facility.
Five students on Team Lilac worked with Small Talk, a non-profit that serves children who are affected by abuse. It provides counseling services, adult prevention education and family advocacy. The students created a print/digital campaign for their annual auction and fundraiser, in which the facts and figures about the organization were highlighted. Moreover, the students produced social media templates, which included communication about their auction and inspirational quotes for those in related circumstances. Overall, the team provided Small Talk with user friendly media that showcases their mission and impact.
The Lansing Art Gallery and Education Center was paired with Team Mantis, a group of four students. In order to honor its history, the students created a timeline of the non-profit’s progression and expansion over the years. The timeline ends in 2022, highlighting the new Knapp’s building, which was also featured in other promotional material created by the students. They also put together a video archive that could later be used for the Lansing Art Gallery and Education Center’s social media pages. These videos can either be utilized for promotional or educational efforts. Team Mantis received a first-place award for their work at this year's University Undergraduate Research and Arts Forum.
Team Marmalade partnered with R.E. Olds Transportation Museum. This museum provides a look into Lansing’s transportation history, including the REO Motor Car Company and the Oldsmobile. These six students transformed the museum's social media by creating a brand guide, media graphics, a virtual tour, and a redesign of their website. The brand guide gave guidance on how the non-profit should be utilizing each social media platform, including how to create an attractive aesthetic for users. To fit with the history of the museum, the graphic designs have a vintage appeal with old license plates and vehicles displayed. Their virtual tour provides users with a quick layout of the museum, without giving so much detail as to discourage customers from coming in.
The five students on Team Vanta worked with the non-profit Allen Neighborhood Center. This organization provides resources for Lansing Eastside residents to enhance their health/well-being, career opportunities and sense of pride in their community. Overall, its goal is to build a safer community where residents are succeeding. Keeping this in mind, students created a relevant social media guide and graphics, along with a promotional video.
Altogether, Street Teams provides excellent opportunities for both the students and the non-profit organizations they work with. After spending hours with a small group of peers, to spending hours with the people who make these non-profits run, these relationships can easily grow into something greater. This can look like future career opportunities or letters of recommendation, or even a bond that one will remember for a lifetime. “Students get a chance to serve and connect with community members that they otherwise wouldn't have crossed paths with,” said Kaumudi Mahajan. Mahajan is the Street Teams Coordinator and a previous participant. “The relationship the teams develop with their clients is mutualistic as both parties benefit immensely - the non-profit partner with the deliverables they get, and the students by getting the chance to give back to their community and create content for these local organizations."
If you’re an interested student or involved in a non-profit looking to participate, visit the Street Teams website for more information.
By Allie Horning