ADPR 489 campaigns capstone course has seniors impacting Lincoln

ADPR 489 campaigns capstone course has seniors impacting Lincoln

Wednesday, November 7, 2018 - 12:30pm
Kelli leads students in class
Asst. Professor Kelli Britten leads the class and provides guidance to students while coordinating requests from the South of Downtown Community Development Organization.

by Brook Weber (Weber is a senior advertising & public relations major and the Nebraska men’s golf sports information director. He is a student in the campaigns capstone course and works part-time in the Nebraska Athletic Comms office. He is set to graduate in May 2019.)

Convincing real-world organizations to partner with a bunch of young, inexperienced college students for business is no easy task. Associate Professor Michelle Hassler realized this in 2017 when trying to develop ideas for courses that could give UNL students hands-on experience with nonprofit groups. But one local nonprofit association was receptive of the idea and saw potential in teaming with the university to gain credibility.

South of Downtown Community Development Organization is the smallest of three groups that comprise Collective Impact Lincoln, a coalition of nonprofits whose mission statement is to enrich the quality of life for all residents in the state’s capital city. South of Downtown, referred to as CDO, focuses on revitalizing the Everett and Near South neighborhoods, located in the area surrounding the state capitol building. The group’s staff consists of just one full-time and two part-time employees, making the decision to partner with CoJMC all the more logical.

The advertising and public relations campaigns course is a senior level capstone class designed for students to get firsthand experience in the real world. This semester, they are attempting to develop a plan to improve standards for safety and increase citizen interaction among the community. The class is split into four teams of eight students that are tasked to develop a complex strategy to present to CDO in December.

The historic location just south of downtown Lincoln is home to some of the poorest people in the city, and the community has struggled with maintenance and upkeep.

“The biggest challenge is since there are constantly new residents in the community, it’s to keep that message out there so the new people coming in and out can see it,” senior team leader Natalie Drozd said.

Assistant Professor Kelli Britten oversees the coordination of efforts between the ADPR 489 class and CDO.

“The thing I’m most excited about is that this is an organization that touches people every day,” Britten said. “If our students achieve this goal of increasing trust and awareness, you can actually make an impact on people’s lives.”

The teams of students meet twice a week to develop their strategies, and Britten works with each group to provide guidance when needed.

“I think it’s really important for students to be able to work in groups, because that’s what you are going to be doing in the real world,” Britten said. “Learning to base your opinions in data and developing interpersonal skills is a huge plus before going into real jobs and working with real clients.”