MAPS program turns pro-bono work into class
By WHITNEY BERMES - Ravalli Republic
It seems like the perfect fit.
On one hand, instructors at MAPS Media Institute were looking for something to challenge their second-year students.
On the other, MAPS also wanted to continue giving back to the community.
The answer? Expanding its pro-bono work into a bona fide class.
The group, along with paid projects, has been undertaking a number of free projects to help out organizations that could use their services.
And next school year, pro-bono assignments will become a class at the MAPS Institute, meant to help second-year students expand on what they've already learned.
"We had been struggling with what to do with our second-year and ongoing students. It doesn't make sense for them to take Film One," said Peter Rosten, MAPS executive director. "(Pro-bono work) provides them with great after-school experiences. It provides them with real-world, client-based jobs."
"Conceptually, the win for us is to keep our MAPS kids growing and gathering new skills," Rosten continued. "Having real-world experience is really important to us."
MAPS, an after-school program for high school students, has had a number of fee-based clients this school year that include Nancy Schweitzer and the Ravalli County Health Department.
The money MAPS earns from these paying clients in turn allows the organization to dedicate time to pro-bono projects.
"What people need, regardless if people pay for it, is building awareness," Rosten said.
Coming up on the docket will be a fundraiser for the Community Cooking Connection. This is a group of public and home-school students from Corvallis who make and serve free meals to the public every Friday night.
"These are just great kids," Rosten said.
On April 9, MAPS will host a free screening of "Waking Sleeping Beauty," a documentary about Disney animation. It will be shown at the Pharaohplex in Hamilton at noon that day. MAPS will accept donations at the screening, all of which will go directly to the Community Cooking Connection.
A second project already underway is for the Valley Veteran Service Center. MAPS will be producing a public service announcement for the organization as well as creating its website.
Rosten said the Valley Veteran Service Center helps veterans expedite the benefits process with teleconferencing at its Hamilton site.
"We know that there's going to be a lot of young men and women coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan that might have real needs," Rosten said. "In anticipation of that, we want to create a website for them so they have a place to interact."
The website, which will feature a blog and other interactive features, will be finished by the end of the school year, Rosten said.
A past project MAPS did for free was a film for the Corvallis American Legion. The students shot a parade, then followed the American Legion to a cemetery where they read a list of fallen soldiers.
"We interviewed a wide variety of veterans. It was intended not for broadcast but sort of a home movie," Rosten said. "The World War II veterans are going quickly, so it was just our pleasure to do."
Rosten said whether his students are producing work for a paying client or a pro-bono project, they put the same amount of professionalism into every assignment.
"These are 14- to 18-year-old kids who have cameras in their hands, engaging people, editing projects," Rosten said. "I don't think they differentiate at all. We certainly don't."