The VANTAGE program at Minnetonka High School gives students the opportunity to work alongside local companies and organizations to gain experience in their field of interest. Recently, a team of students in the Design and Marketing strand of VANTAGE had the opportunity to work with the local organization Letters of Love.
Letters of Love (LOL) is a nonprofit organization founded by a young woman who is a local entrepreneur, Grace Berbig, in honor of her mother. Grace’s mission is to support people in hospitals experiencing difficult times, and her organization has now become one that has multiple club chapters globally. At club meetings, members make emotional support items—specifically handmade cards–that are sent to patients in hospitals all over the world.
MHS Senior Lucy Hiller led her VANTAGE Design & Marketing team members in their work with Grace and Letters of Love for the past few months.
"We began every meeting with a ‘Group Stand-up’ which is where each individual had the chance to talk about what they have done on the project over the past few days, what they have worked on and what they need help with from the team,” Hiller said. “Our team targeted LOL’s main points and developed strong marking and communications outreach and engagement strategies and tactics for the organization that went above and beyond the original requested deliverables. As team lead, I felt so lucky to have such an amazing team and such dedicated individual contributors on it. It’s impressive how our team came together and how our company project turned out.”
VANTAGE overall has been a catalyst in the lives of students, as the flocused strands and projects really help students engage in what inspires them. For example, since she was in 7th grade, Lucy Hiller says she knew she wanted to be a graphic designer.
"And then when I saw that MHS offered a VANTAGE strand that combined both marketing and design, I was beyond excited,” she said. “VANTAGE has proven to me that I am 100% pursuing the right degree as I look ahead to college. VANTAGE has taught me vital life lessons–such as professionalism, effective teamwork, communication, innovative thinking and how to be a leader—all things that I know I will be using in my future.”
By giving students the opportunity to try out different career paths in a real-world setting, like the work with Letters of Love, VANTAGE can help students determine whether that career path is the right fit for them.
"What we learn in classes at VANTAGE directly correlates to almost everything we did for our LOL project,” Hiller continued. “We learned the basics of Adobe Illustrator, how to conduct and produce secondary and primary marketing research, how to make a social media calendar, how to make graphics and social media posts, how to craft specific posts to target an audience, how to strategically develop campaigns that boost awareness and take customers through the marketing funnel and also how to be professional.”
After their final presentation, Lucy Hiller, along with other members of her team were offered positions on the executive board of Letters of Love. Lucy now works on the social media board, promoting the global reach of the organization.
In the end, many of the projects that VANTAGE students work on can open up a lot of doors for those students, while also making a real impact. The Design and Lettering team that worked with Letters of Love was able to present their ideas to the organization’s executive board so the tactics can be used to influence the positive impact organizations like this can have in the wider community.
"My favorite part of the project was actually at our final meeting,” said Hiller. “Getting to see Grace’s reaction to everything we created was so touching and, truly, so amazing. There wasn't a dry eye in the room after Grace started crying tears of joy. Knowing that just a couple high school kids were able to leave that big of an impact on her and her nonprofit organization was something I will never forget.”