Corey Dressel

From Argument to Action: Project Nonprofit

In Uncategorized on May 8, 2013 at 12:19 pm


One way in which I integrate technical documents into lessons on reading and writing, is through a project that asks my students to create a nonprofit organization in response to the material presented in the memoir They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky (co-authored by Alepho Deng, Benson Deng, & Benjamin Ajak) and The Latehomecomer (written by Kao Kalia Yang). Both memoirs depict historical and current global events.

Each student is allowed to choose their organization’s focus based upon their subjective reaction to the material; however, it must focus on providing some sort of aid, service, relief, supplies, etc. to the people and regions presented in the memoirs. I encourage them to settle on an idea that they could literally picture themselves doing.

Part 1: the plan

In the first part of the project, students dive head first into research as they put together an extensive plan that outlines the various steps involved in creating and maintaining a successful nonprofit organization. Steps I suggest need to be included in each students’ plan include:

  • The establishment of the organization.
  • The details involved in actualizing an organization of this nature, to include the finite details of cost, administration, and necessary cooperation with other people or entities.
  • Ways to acquire membership/volunteers and the assignment of duties.
  • Ways to promote their organization and increase exposure to the public to gain interest and attention.
  • Possible fundraising activities and/or benefits to raise money and/or collect supplies, etc.
  • Ways to advertise events, fundraisers, and products.
  • Methods of controlling and managing the collection of products.
  • The procurement of funds for initial establishment, needed supplies (administrative supplies and supplies intended for the aid effort), and shipping, etc.
  • Potential venues that will enable them to raise public awareness (newspaper articles, local news broadcast, presentations at a local university or local book store—like the Blue Herron, etc.).

It is not a particular length that I require for this part of the project. I am looking at the extent of factual detail and realistic anticipation of necessary steps they’ve included, based off of their researched understanding of the process. This assignment requires students to enter a world most know next to nothing about. Students become very comfortable and proficient at researching ideas and topics, which sets them up to more effectively select appropriate sources for the next half of the project.

Part 2: the technical document

The second part of the project asks students to select and write one or two elements within their plan. The following list showcases just a few of the ideas students can consider when deciding what to do for this section of their project:

  • An article written to their local paper to inform the public, persuade them that something needs to be done, and effectively convince them to participate in their organizations goals.
  • The advertisement of a fundraiser they have planned to help raise awareness and money for their organization’s cause.
  • A grant proposal.
  • A letter to President Obama (or any politician) requesting that the United States focus on a certain aspect of aid or action.
  • A letter to a company trying to persuade them to:
    1. donate a product to the organization
    2. sell a product to the organization at cost or at a low cost
    3. partner with the student and the student’s organization
  • A speech—with PowerPoint—that the student would deliver to the UN, a high school, their college, etc.
  • A speech the student would deliver at a rally they have organized in support of their organization’s cause/effort.
  • The organization’s website.

Students study the art of logical persuasion while considering format and design. Though I have set the parameters of this project, it is their personal passions that drive them to create the most incredibly well thought out, researched, and well written projects. I firmly believe that taking the concepts of research and analysis out of the ethereal and into the real world for students, cements these practices and skills in their minds.

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