This semester, the Organizational Communication class partnered with the Dubuque Dream Center to assist with the non-profit’s public relations and marketing needs. Founded in 2013 by Pastor Robert Kimble, John Reeves and Jay Schiesl, the Dream Center builds on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream of transforming communities by embracing, empowering and unifying those who live in the area. The organization focuses on serving the youth in third through eighth grade in the community through mentorship and structured programs. This after-school program provides academic support, basketball, boxing, dance teams, youth choir, meals and healthy snacks. Designed to provide students with an increased sense of community support, the “In Your Life Mentoring” program attempts to involve teachers, parents, coaches and community members in the lives of the students.
Dr. Belanger, the instructor for this course, decided that pairing with a local non-profit organization would best help students understand organizational communication by providing active learning experiences. The class teaches students about how communication is crucial to understanding how organizations work. By creating teams and dividing tasks based on expertise, the class contributed to updating and creating publicity materials for the Dream Center. Students completed projects that included making a new promotional video, updating newsletters, taking photos at the facility and fundraising events, creating programs and flyers, creating email blasts and helping manage the organization’s social media accounts. The class helped the Dream Center prepare these materials specifically to promote the Spring Fundraiser that took place on April 28, assisting in its success.
The students met Robert Kimble when he visited the classroom early in the semester and told them what the Dream Center is all about. Inspired by Robert’s enthusiasm for the Dream Center’s mission, the class agreed that this organizational project was very important.
“(This project was) more than just a grade—it was going to directly impact this organization and it needs to be done right,” said sophomore Anna Johnson. This community involvement made the class distinct from many other courses.
All projects were taken seriously, and the class made the effort to ensure that all work was submitted to Kimble to the best of their ability. Belanger and sophomore Molly Huhn, an intern at the Dream Center, served as the communicators between the rest of the class and Kimble, who gave direction for projects. Classmates stepped up and chose to assist in promotional materials in their areas of expertise. For example, students with media studies backgrounds collaborated together to make an incredible video that captured the impact the Dream Center has on the youth it serves. Strong writers and editors helped to update and create written materials to promote the Dream Center as well. The entire class had important roles to make the project successful as a whole.
In addition to helping with promotional materials, they also held a fundraiser at Hy-Vee on a Friday afternoon, raising about $200 for the Dream Center. This was matched by Loras College Student Union through collaborative efforts of the Loras College Peace and Justice Club, totaling in approximately $400. A few students along with Belanger attended the Spring Fundraiser event at the Hotel Julien to show support for the Dream Center. The event showcased the Dream Center dance team and youth choir, whose performances were wonderful and reflected the positive impacts the Dream Center has on these students. The class also volunteered to serve a meal to Dream Center participants in early May. The class was able to see the Dream Center in action, providing a very rewarding experience for everyone. It was good to know that their efforts made in the classroom helped to make a difference in an organization that has such a great mission.
On May 6, Kimble visited the class to thank everyone and told them that they have been “lifesavers” in assisting with promotional materials. He thanked the class for every effort they made, and they expressed tremendous gratitude for the opportunity to have a hands-on learning experience that served such a great organization.
While the organizational project has ended, the Dream Center continues to impact lives in the community. Visit their website on http://www.dubuquedreamcenter.com/or “like” The Dubuque Dream Center Facebook page to learn more about this organization!