Save Street Teams!

Save Street Teams!

By Emily Paterson

April 26, 2024

Street Teams, a vital student organization, faces discontinuation at the end of the Spring semester.


What if there was a campus organization that helped students build their design skills by donating their creativity to local nonprofits? This mutually beneficial partnership, in which students create portfolio-ready projects and nonprofits receive transformative updates to their branding and communications, already exists and has been known as MSU Street Teams

Despite over seven years of serving Greater Lansing nonprofits, Street Teams faces the possibility of discontinuation at the end of the Spring semester due to funding concerns within the MSU College of Communication Arts and Science—much to the dismay of over thirty students currently involved in the program.

Receiving this news just under a month ago, the students of Street Teams have felt everything from anger to sadness to disbelief, as they try to grapple with a future without their dedicated community of students, mentors and non-profit partners.

“It was extremely disappointing news to receive since Street Teams has shaped my entire undergraduate experience in so many ways,” said Mia Burghardt, Street Team’s student coordinator and active volunteer since 2021. “For me, it has been so impactful to be a part of a robust community of students with common values. We use our knowledge to uplift nonprofits that don’t have the resources to communicate what they do to enrich the Lansing community.”

Since 2013, Street Teams has organized the efforts of over 220 students, who have donated almost 14,000 hours to advance the efforts of fifty local Lansing nonprofits. Past non-profit clients have included the Allen Neighborhood Center, Constellation Cat Cafe, Greater Lansing Food Bank, Lansing Art Gallery & Education Center, Salus Center and many more. 

“East Lansing and MSU are in their own little bubble. Street Teams broke us out of that bubble and connected us to unique, passionate, and creative communities that exist all around us,” said Burghardt. “When we provide media work for these organizations, we learn their shared values of humanity and purpose. We will carry these lessons with us for the rest of our lives.”

Street Teams has served as a space for students across all majors who wish to volunteer their time and talents throughout the entire academic year. For many, the professional experience developed from Street Teams has been essential in securing a job or internship opportunity. It has also vastly expanded the realm of possibility for students as they envision their future. 

“Many of my dreams for my career have come right from the extremely valuable and rewarding work that Street Teams offers to students,” said Abbey Lieffers, a creative advertising senior and Street Teams volunteer since 2020. “Working with non-profit clients is what inspired me to pursue a master’s in Advertising for Social Impact with the specialization in non-profit fundraising and philanthropy next year at MSU.”

Despite Street Team’s undoubtable impact on students and the greater community, it was an even greater disappointment to learn the reason behind its discontinuation: a lack of funding. 

For the past seven years, Street Teams had been mostly supported by a generous gift of $250,000 from MSU Federal Credit Union, alongside additional pockets of grant funding from the Michigan Arts and Culture Council or generous donations from alumni, like Jill Byron, who helped mitigate the cost of a Street Team’s travel as they aided the Cherryland Humane Society.

“What [this program] did for me was renew my faith in the younger generation that when I exit, I know this country will be in good hands,” said Byron about the impact of her donation in words that were shared with students during the 2024 Street Teams Closing ceremony last Sunday. 

Even with the past funding from charitable organizations and alumni alike—which has now been over five years ago—Street Teams has not received enough recent support and attention from the university to continue it in its current state. 

“This is not an organization that can simply fade away without any consequences,” said Burghardt. “We don’t make all of this media just to make stuff; we create to make a lasting impact and assist organizations that help people in need.”

With the ultimate goal of saving their beloved organization, student advocates for Street Teams reviewed their options this past week in a discussion with ComArtSci’s Interim Dean Teresa Mastin, who will soon be transitioning into her role as vice provost at the end of May once the incoming dean Heidi Hennink-Kaminski comes into office. 

orking in collaboration with the interim dean, the students are now looking to find immediate sources of funding to continue the program into the fall. 

For anyone who can support these dedicated students by connecting them with potential funding opportunities to keep their organization alive, please reach out to paters24@msu.edu.


Emily Paterson is a senior double majoring in professional and public writing and experience architecture. She is passionate about centering accessibility as the foundation for design work and content creation. In her free time, she enjoys watching movies and riding her bike.