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UMKC launches course supporting KC-area nonprofits

UMKC RooComm
Posted at 4:29 PM, Oct 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-15 19:42:08-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A new course at the University of Missouri-Kansas City aims to make hiring a Roo the right choice.

“It’s really just taking all this theoretical they’ve been learning and actually putting it to real use,” said RooComm course creator and professor Jaysen Van Sickle.

Van Sickle spent years in the nonprofit space while teaching at UMKC. In 2022, they brainstormed a course to give students real-world experience while giving back to the community.

“You don’t typically see business students, journalism or communications students, designers or productions and film ever get to practice in a real-world setting, in a safe environment where they can fail and learn," Van Sickle said.

Leading up to events, luncheons and galas, students work to bring the visions of KC-area nonprofits to life by providing social media strategy, analytics and video production free of charge.

Thirty students are enrolled in the new course this semester with Abby Wendlandt as the agency manager.

“It really puts you out there,” Wendlandt said. “I don’t think there’s any other class anywhere that is going to prepare you for real life and real jobs as well as this class will.”  

Wendlandt spent last weekend with the nonprofit Troost Market Collective as it hosted Troostapalooza.

“Helping out with events like this is a lot more than any textbook could ever teach you,” Wendlandt said.

Feedback from the nonprofits has been overwhelmingly positive, calling support from students an immense help.

“It’s everything we crave as someone who needs that extra help,” said Crissy Dastrup, Troost Market Collective founder. “They’re super on the ball. Love working with them, love having them. They are knocking it out of the park.”

Van Sickle hopes to expand to include new nonprofits and more students in semesters to come.