College of Arts and Humanities

Ripple effect: Clemson students amplify local nonprofit’s message to help families in need


What initially started as a Fall collaboration between an Upstate nonprofit and a class at Clemson University is extending into the Spring semester, with students continuing their support for a team dedicated to aiding impoverished families in achieving financial independence.

Ripple of One connected with Pearce Center for Professional Communication assistant director Ashley Fisk’s students to sharpen the neighboring Oconee County organization’s social media marketing presence. Executive director Stephanie Enders and her 10-woman staff wear many hats in fundraising and operations roles. But Enders said there was a need for help in the online realm.

“They’ve just been amazing,” she said. “It’s a huge niche they’re filling because one of the holes we’ve had is marketing and social media with all the events we’re juggling. It’s just as essential to get the word out.

Stephanie Enders founded Ripple of One in 2010. (Photo courtesy of Caleb Gilbert, The Seneca Journal)

“Ashley Fisk and her group at the Pearce Center have been one of the biggest blessings we’ve ever had,” Enders added. “She brought in five wonderful, bright women who just took it on. It was amazing.”

The faith-based nonprofit, founded in 2010, aims to incentivize families to move beyond government assistance to help parents focus on education and work readiness, financial stability, emotional stability and physical health. Participants are provided a mentor, financial coach and parent support team to buttress them in the two-year program. Children — known as “Lil’ Ripplers” — also receive a mentor and are rewarded for practicing healthy habits.

Why Ripple

Word of mouth brought Ripple, Fisk and the students together. A past class worked with MainStreet Walhalla, the economic development arm of the small city in Oconee County. Fisk said the former director worked with Ripple to develop a marketing plan and suggested Enders reach out to the Pearce Center for help.

Clemson students helped share the nonprofit’s message in managing Ripple of One’s Facebook account to provide consistent posts about success stories and other opportunities. Video teasers were produced to provide updates to donors and volunteers. Students also gave a facelift to the nonprofit’s branding kit.

“Working with Ripple was a dream. Each meeting was bursting with fresh ideas and full of productivity,” said Malaysia Barr, a graduate student in the Master of Arts in Communication program. “Through working with them, I learned how to use Meta Suite and became proficient in the program. Working with Ripple of One helped me get a deeper look into what communication work in a nonprofit looks like.”

Any student can register to participate and receive internship credit in the practicum in writing (ENGL 4990) or creative inquiry in communication (COMM 3990) courses.

A continued tradition of experiential learning

Ashley Fisk has led hundreds of client projects during her time at Clemson University.

Fisk began teaching in the Department of English in 2003 and has held a leadership role at the Pearce Center since 2013. Over the last 10 years, Fisk’s classes — technical and business communication and service learning — have completed around 200 client projects. Since 2004, the Pearce Center has offered experiential learning projects for Clemson students that directly transform lives in South Carolina.

The opportunity to partner with Ripple of One was another she couldn’t pass up.

“The student intern team managed this project from start to finish, just like they would at the workplace,” Fisk explained. “At the end of the semester, they felt confident in transferable skills related to their majors that they could show potential employers.”

About the Pearce Center for Professional Communication

The Pearce Center exists to promote effective communication as an integral part of the learning process at Clemson. It offers undergraduate client-based internships, professional development for graduate teaching assistants and faculty writing workshops.

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