Helping a Nonprofit to Its (Dancing) Feet
Millie Stone ’23 has never been a dancer. As a history major on a pre-med track, she’d planned to spend this summer as a cancer genetics intern at an Atlanta hospital—no fancy footwork in sight. But when that opportunity was canceled due to the pandemic, Stone turned to Career Education’s Hive Internship Projects. Motivated by her previous experience as an intern with a nonprofit called Read to a Child, Stone sought another organization to join and stumbled upon Dancing Feet, a nonprofit associated with the ballroom dance studio Ballroom in Boston, founded by Lilia Weisfeldt ’04.
Dancing Feet’s mission is to provide dance scholarships to underserved children and the elderly. “Dancing Feet is just getting its feet on the ground,” Stone said. “This Hive project appealed to me because it enables me to pursue nonprofit work, but also because Dancing Feet is entirely new.”
Over the course of 80 hours from June to August, Stone has taken on a variety of tasks for the startup. Recently, she drafted blog posts for Dancing Feet’s forthcoming website about the benefits of dance for both young children and older people. “For older adults, dance practice minimizes the risk of dementia,” Stone said. “And dance positively contributes to emotional, social, and cognitive development, especially for growing children.”
“This Hive project appealed to me because it enables me to pursue nonprofit work, but also because Dancing Feet is entirely new.”Millie Stone ’23
To make Dancing Feet’s future website pop, Stone is gathering images, making graphics, and writing captions to post on social media when things get rolling. Offline, Stone is looking for foundations that might be interested in connecting with and supporting Dancing Feet. Weisfeldt has helped Stone learn about that process. “Lilia has taught me that every nonprofit has unique needs, especially when it comes to fundraising,” said Stone. “You cannot always pick up a ‘guide to fundraising’ or ‘10 steps to start fundraising’ and have it help you to meet your organization’s specific needs.”
Stone came to Dancing Feet with some fundraising experience from her work with Read to a Child, where she solicited donations for the organization’s auction fundraiser, but she was new to web design. It was an instant learning opportunity. “I’ve explored various nonprofit websites in order to determine the best approach to creating our own,” said Stone. “This is also the first time that I am helping develop social media content and blog posts for an organization.”
Stone said much of what she worked on this summer will stay with her. “I'll certainly take with me a general interest in nonprofit development, and a deeper appreciation for and curiosity about dance,” she said. In the classroom, she’ll apply the research and writing skills that she strengthened while working with Dancing Feet.
Stone does not plan to continue working with Dancing Feet after the summer, though she does hope to keep in touch with Weisfeldt. It’s been an excellent experience, she said, but “most other positions with the organization likely involve teaching dance, which I am not qualified to do!” But she can see herself combining her interests in nonprofit work and cancer research down the line—maybe by starting a health care-focused nonprofit organization.