American Dreams: The Bus 52 Campaign

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This summer, a St Andrews philanthropic campaign will kick off, but with a bit of a twist. Bus 52 is a year long project looking at highlighting and profiling people around the United States, who are making a difference in the everyday lives of others in their community. Driving around in a converted school bus, a group of graduates will be travelling to all forty-eight continental states and putting together character profiles of outstanding individuals that they meet along the way. The project has been in development for over a year; its aim is to bring interesting, inspiring stories to a wider audience, through a compilation of first-person video accounts, interviews, blog post and articles, which will be uploaded to the Bus 52 website. By posting these profiles online through social media, Bus 52 hopes to offer viewers the world over stories of positivity in times that can sometimes seem so negative.

Due to the size of the project, the amount of work it requires is considerable. In order to help start the project off, Bus 52 has been incorporated under a US non-profit organization called Exploring Community Inc. As for its workforce, Bus 52 will rely on students and other young people to power all aspects of the project, from fundraising and advertising to research and filming.

Bus 52 is not only socially beneficial campaign, but also designed to give practical experience in journalism, marketing and fundraising to the students involved. Three to four students or recent graduates will stay on the bus for up to 3 months at a time. During their trip they will be learning how to film, write, cut and produce short pieces of professional quality. Producers from major world news organizations will be reviewing the profiles for production-related feedback.

The initiative also includes several ‘focused stays’ during the year, where the bus will stay for a week in one location and produce a variety of stories about that place. This will allow time to highlight broader issues and show deeper exploration of communities throughout America. True to the Bus 52 ethos, these profiles will aim to show how small change can make a big impact.

Bus 52 is open to any student or recent graduate of a UK or US University and roles in fundraising, social media marketing, story research and ground team are available. For more information on the project and how to apply, check out www.bus52.com. The wheels are set to start spinning in September 2011.

Robert Gelb.

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