Purdue Northwest coursework allows students to give back

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This semester, 20 students from Purdue University Northwest’s Advanced Public Relations class joined the ranks of their alumni and worked as public relations coordinators for local non-profit organizations that give back to their communities.

The students raised awareness of their chosen organization and their events through 48 total published press releases.

The non-profit requirement of the 400-level course gave students the freedom to find organizations that help the communities in various ways. The course challenges students to dissect their organization’s traditional and social media strategies and processes to determine the effectiveness. If no processes are in place, the students create them.

Senior Nancy Singh worked with Highland Education Foundation which provides educational grants for classroom enhancements for the school town of Highland.

“Advanced PR has prepared us for the future by equipping us with the tools to work with an actual client,” said Singh. “We are finding creative ways to help gain publicity for our clients while developing our own skill set.”

Organizations such as Highland Education Foundation, the Northwest Indiana Cancer Kids Foundation, Planting Possibilities, Respond Now and Girls on the Run of Northwest Indiana were clients of this semester’s students.

Senior Jordan Grinstead worked with Girls on the Run of Northwest Indiana, a non-profit that serves girls in third through eighth grade. The organization hosts a 10-week program which meets twice a week and focuses on running as well as social and emotional learning.

“I knew of Girls on the Run beforehand but working with them has helped me see how large of an impact they have in the community,” said Grinstead. “Although I’ll be graduating, their work has inspired me to continue giving back to my community.”

Grinstead’s press release about the contributions of a GOTR coach was shared on the organization’s international Facebook page which has 96,000 followers.

Junior Amanda Biro worked with the Northwest Indiana Cancer Kids Foundation. The non-profit partners families who have had similar experiences with childhood cancer to foster courage, faith and hope.

Biro took her commitment to help the organization further by hosting a cookie sale on the PNW campus. If students were unable to purchase a cookie, they had the option of making cards for the kids. Biro’s team raised almost $300 for the foundation in a week.

“I believe that my work has helped people become more aware of the NICK Foundation. Not a lot of people know about them and the work they provide to families who are affected by pediatric cancer,” said Biro. “They are so inspiring in what they do, and it was amazing to work with an organization that valued family.”

The course was led by Continuing Lecturer Deanna Francoeur-Schmidt. At the end of the course, students will have accumulated materials for their portfolios.

“It’s great that students are able to work for organizations that give so much to their communities,” said Francoeur-Schmidt. “They’re able to gain skills that they will take with them after the class ends and help those that help others.”

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