Students assist media lab aimed to aid nonprofits


Photo: Evan Walsh

At Emerson, it is nearly impossible to come across unmotivated students. Everywhere you turn, there are eager students searching for new opportunities to share their skills and expand their knowledge. However, very rarely can all of these be combined and put into one opportunity for students. But now, thanks to Boston’s Next Mile Project, students can find opportunities that are not only beneficial to them, but to the community as a whole.

The Next Mile Project is an organization started by Dhar Law, a Boston law firm that set out to start a new trend in nonprofit law, according to the project’s communication associate, Emerson alumna Michelle Nigro. By creating the Next Mile Project, the firm has expanded support for nonprofit organizations by supplying them with skills, tools, and hard-working interns. Through a combination of these factors, she said, nonprofits are given the chance to increase their market, reach larger audiences, and push their organizations further than they otherwise could.

Nigro is one of the driving forces behind the project. She said she has spent the past year turning the idea of a nonprofit aid into a reality. The Next Mile Project, she said, officially launched in June of 2013, followed by the launch of the media lab in Sept. 2013.

The media lab, according to Nigro, is used by nonprofits and allows the organizations and their interns to work with the Next Mile Project to help create new projects or ad campaigns, and gain overall experience working in their desired fields, whether they are in film, journalism, or marketing.

Currently, the project has seven student interns, four of whom are Emerson students. Together, the interns collaborate using their knowledge of journalism, film, editing, and marketing in order to aid the nonprofit organizations that work with Dhar Law. 

The interns have a variety of responsibilities, Nigro said, including biweekly blog posts, updating organizations’ websites, and creating multimedia projects.

“They are creating professional-quality videos and other multimedia projects for specific events, updates, accomplishments, and campaigns for our member organizations.” 

Through these projects, the interns say they feel a sense of accomplishment and pride in their work. One of these Emerson students, sophomore journalism major Zoe Mathews, said she found her internship after applying online and receiving an interview request from Dhar Law.

“To me, the [Next Mile Project] is an incredible place to intern at because I have been able to provide some service to these organizations and people who implement such a direct force of good in the world,” said Mathews. “It’s pretty rewarding, not to mention the people I work with are just stellar.”

Another Emerson intern, sophomore visual and media arts major Kelly Budish, said she found her internship after being contacted by Nigro over InternSushi, a website that allows individuals to post about their work and skills in order to find jobs.

“To me, the Next Mile Project is a way to learn how to improve my video skills while helping others,” Budish said. “I love that what the Next Mile Project does has never really been done before. Before this project, I never knew that such things existed for nonprofits. I assumed people who started nonprofits were on their own.” 

According to Budish, Emerson has been the main force behind her success when it comes to the project by providing her with skills and with the knowledge she needs to use at the Next Mile Project lab. 

“Emerson has helped me tremendously because, since arriving, I have learned how to edit and [film] better as well as more about marketing and dealing with clients,” she said. “It has definitely provided me with plenty of experience that has allowed me to hone my skills and become better at my craft.”

So far, the project is working with 13 different nonprofits and is planning on expanding their nonprofit clientele, according to Nigro. 

“The Next Mile Project aims to be much more than [a coworking space],” said Nigro. “We want to be a community for nonprofits to learn, grow, and thrive together. The Next Mile Project is not an accelerator program. This space is the nonprofit’s home.”