Jennifer Vivier didn’t hear any sizzle.
Sure, a video project focused on the merits of the Art & Design department and what it offers to students would be good enough, and useful. When she looked around the room, the faces told Vivier she wasn’t alone.
Vivier, a recent graduate who majored in graphic design, suggested that her Design in Motion class instead make a video project for Girls Inc. of Greater Lowell, a local nonprofit that has served to empower girls and young women toward “healthy, educated and successful” lives for more than a century. Vivier has a history with the agency: In 2016, at the university’s annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. dinner, she won a Distinguished Service Award for her work there.
Instructor Regina Milan, who encourages projects that help others in some way, is always open to students’ suggestions. She embraced Vivier’s idea.
The students were divided into four teams, and over the course of the spring semester, they worked with a set of facts to create a video that would appeal to Girls Inc.’s donors. The students produced videos that the nonprofit can use for fundraising. For an organization with no marketing or public relations staff, the professional-quality videos are a big help, says Tracy Ingersoll, Girls Inc.’s executive director.
“I think the finished products are really wonderful,” Ingersoll says. “I love the different perspectives the videos took. And their work gives us four different videos to choose from for different audiences.”
The students say the project opened some eyes, and brought tears to others.
“When the board members watched the final video, a couple started crying. To see them so touched by how we represented them was amazing. They said we captured the organization,” says Andrea DeLisle, a newly minted graduate who majored in graphic design.
DeLisle says she has lived “a fairly privileged life,” so the project provided a new perspective.
“This was eye-opening. It was the first time I had been able to work with a nonprofit client while in school,” she said. “And I learned about the girls and how being involved at Girls Inc. makes their lives better.”
“I had never heard of anything like Girls Inc. before this project,” says Hannah Munroe, a junior fine arts major with a concentration in graphic design. She wishes she had. “It’s such a wonderful place for girls to learn and build a safe environment. I was amazed at the programming and how it supported girls who were interested in the STEM fields.”
She also learned the importance and power of working for a nonprofit.
“You could see how impactful Girls Inc. is in the girls’ lives.”
Vivier already knew that first-hand. Now 31, she first went to Girls Inc. when she was 6. Her single mother worked full time and wanted her daughter to be exposed to more diversity than Dracut offered. So she found Girls Inc.
Vivier struggled in school, but she flourished at Girls Inc. Now an avid photographer, she took photos for the first time at Girls Inc. when she was 9. She formed deep, lasting bonds. And she never really left, having volunteered and worked there. Working on the video project brought things full circle.
In the past, Milan’s classes have gotten hands-on experience doing projects for other nonprofits, including the Merrimack Valley Food Bank and Melmark New England, a school for autistic children and teens in Andover.
“I like to have students do something different and know that it’s important to give back,” Milan says.