CLEVELAND — Verizon has partnered with the NeoSTEM Ecosystem to support a summer program pairing high school students with small-business owners and nonprofits to improve the online presence of local businesses and organizations.
Created in Spring 2020, WIR’ED gives students from under-resourced communities an opportunity to earn money while supporting businesses and nonprofits by providing essential online marketing skills. WIR’ED students help local shopkeepers and nonprofit managers build, improve and expand their websites and social media platforms, and manage their overall online presence.
“Verizon has committed to help 1 million businesses by 2030 succeed in the digital economy as part of Citizen Verizon, our responsible-business plan for economic, environmental, and social advancement,” said Jessica Cohen, Manager of State Government Affairs for Verizon. “Our support of the WIR’ED program is a reflection of the company’s commitment to move the world forward for everyone by expanding digital access and supporting small businesses.”
Developed in collaboration with the Old Brooklyn Community Development Corporation and others, WIR’ED addresses the pandemic’s effects on students and shopkeepers by 1) closing the learning gaps caused by shifting and uncertain school schedules, and 2) helping shopkeepers combat the effects of business shutdowns and social-distancing measures.
Harnessing the talent of northeast Ohio’s students, WIR’ED teams gather online each week to learn about new marketing tools, discuss progress and plan next steps. With the help of area marketing professionals, teams assess businesses’ needs and develop creative solutions.
“We so pleased Verizon will be partnering with us for WIR’ED,” said Alyssa Lenhoff-Briggs, director of NeoSTEM. “Verizon’s dedication to creating meaningful opportunities for students in northeast Ohio aligns perfectly with WIR’ED, and we’re excited for how the partnership will grow.”
WIR’ED’s first pilot launched in Spring 2020 to great success, and its second pilot concluded in March 2021. NeoSTEM, with the support of Verizon, will continue to expand the program with a third pilot this summer in collaboration with Youth Opportunities Unlimited.