Learning Skills through Service

By Xin Sheena Zhou


The organization I chose is Vibrant Boston. Vibrant Boston (VB) is a community-based non-profit organization; they offer many programs in art, education, sports and wellness that influence youth to become well-rounded, educated, and productive citizens by exposing them to positive after-school activities. Their mission is to engage the youth and their families in the areas of education, enrichment, and wellness by offering a variety of programs in a safe, supportive, and community-focused environment. VB’s goal of fundraising to support the teen program and continue to provide stipends for the teens directly serves their larger mission. The teen program provides monthly stipends of $150 per student for those who maintain a 2.5 GPA and volunteer in and around the communities that they live in. In addition, the students that are in the program throughout the school year are also offered a summer job as counselors in the summer camp program. This program provides a positive environment for teens to complete their homework, mentor younger children, and be rewarded for their good grades through the stipend. Without the program, these youths would have to find other ways to make money, and school would no longer be the priority. In conclusion, being able to fund this program gives teens incentive to give back to the community, excel in school, and be positive role models for other youth.  The after school program throughout the school year and the summer job as counselors keeps them out of trouble and in positive activities when school is not in session.

Our goal is to raise $45,000 by November 2016, to provide funding to support three years of stipends for VB’s teen programs. At first we analyzed the situation of the organization from their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. We detailed each element from both internal and external research. We collected the sources from interviews, studies, media reviews and reports to examine the issues of the organization’s environment. We provided fact sheet after the analysis, such as how the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats connected to the goal. And then we indicated the audiences of our communication plan; the audiences include decision makers and influencers, and analysis of whether each audience needed to be informed engaged, motivated or maintained as well as how to deliver the message to each audience. We developed specific tactics and messages for each of the audiences. The communications plan will help the organization communicate effectively and meet their final goal.

With the help of our professor and the team members that I joined, I have gained more knowledge and experienced numerous skills that I have not learned before. First, communication skills; during the process of the plan development, I learned how to effectively express and exchange ideas through listing, speaking and reading; Critical thinking skills: during the research I can be more effective at gathering and synthesizing relevant information, evaluating alternatives, and implementing creative and effective solutions. Most importantly, personal responsibility skills, since I am an international student, English is not my first language; during the plan process, and with the help of our group members, I became a more independent learner than before. I believe that the personal responsibility skills are lifelong skills and necessary for physical, social, economic, mental, and emotional health.

Xin Sheena is a student in Kate Marple’s Strategic Communications for Nonprofit Organizations course. 

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