NEOSTEM Ecosystem Statement of the Times Message
Mar 05

WIR’ED Students, Businesses Continue Work

Students and shopkeepers meet to discuss their progress 

CLEVELAND –Cleveland Metropolitan School District and East Cleveland Schools students, and Old Brooklyn and East Cleveland business owners gathered online for their second regular meet-up to review their progress in reaching the goals set for the second WIR’ED pilot.

Conceived in March 2020 by NeoSTEM leaders, with support from several others, WIR’ED seeks to respond to the needs of brick-and-mortar businesses with little or no online presence struggling to operate in the increasingly socially distanced and online world triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mel McGee, founder of We Can Code It, introduced a new element to the program – student progress reports, presented to the group as a whole, reviewing their work so far and discussing their paths forward.

Bill Kap Piano seeks a broader audience

Kicking off the group reporting, Halima Mohamed, a student at Lincoln-West School of Science and Health, and Moises Tuyas, a student at Cleveland School of the Arts, discussed their work with East Cleveland music shop Bill Kap Piano. Mohamed and Tuyas talked about the importance of understanding Bill Kap’s target market.

“You shouldn’t just target older people, because young people are also interested,” Mohamed said. “You’ve got to reach out to young kids, children, and adults. That’s the most important thing.” Mohamed said it’s important to understand that while older audiences are more familiar with social media platforms like Facebook, younger people are more likely to use Instagram and Snapchat.

“It’s finding out what kids like, they’re trying to experience new things,” Tuyas said. “We have to get their attention.”

Mohamed also talked about the importance of creating marketing strategies the project’s businesses can maintain on a long-term basis. “Whatever business you’re doing, you need to do things they’ll need later on,” Mohamed said. “Because we’re not going to be here forever.”

Gus’s Old Brooklyn Family Restaurant takes on Instagram

Stacy Hernandez, a student at the Garrett Morgan School of Engineering & Innovation, and Kimberly Rodriguez, a student at Facing New Tech High School, who are partnered with Gus’s Old Brooklyn Family Restaurant, reported on their progress in developing a series of Instagram posts geared to promote the restaurant’s menu. And owner Nick Semertsidis said the students’ work is helping him expand the restaurant’s customer base.

“Even though we’ve been here for 30 years, we have newer people coming in the neighborhood, and they don’t know we’re here,” Semertsidis said. “So [we’re] trying to get the brand name out and get more of those customers.”

East Cleveland Neighborhood Center gains social media insight

Jerome West, of the East Cleveland Neighborhood Center, said he is exited to develop a marketing plan that will stretch into the spring and beyond. “[The students] were really helpful in giving me some insight into the importance of using TikTok and Instagram to reach our youth audiences,” West said.

Historical Society of Old Brooklyn prepares an online collection

Cleveland School of Science and Medicine junior Ryckia Sutton discussed her progress in partnering with the Historical Society of Old Brooklyn and their efforts to digitize the historical society’s collection.

“We’re helping them put their collection online so that people can view their artifacts from the comfort of their homes since they can’t really go inside and do the things,” Sutton said. “We’re helping them create a story to share with the public so that they can get like donations for operating funds, like grants and utilities and things like that.”

Northeast Ohio Alliance for Hope brings new technology to older users

Kayla Brown, a senior at Facing History New Tech who’s partnered with the Northeast Ohio Alliance for Hope explained her work in helping older users become acquainted with newer technology.

“We’re going to work on teaching our business people how to use all the different aspects of media, so it’s more about focusing on the reach than anything else,” Brown said. “So we’re coming up with unique ways for them to get involved. We’re also working on transferring some of the things that they do on paper and other things that they may do in person into digital ways that they could do it instead.”

Conceived in March 2020 by NeoSTEM leaders and the Old Brooklyn Community Development Corporation, WIR’ED seeks to respond to the needs of brick-and-mortar businesses with little or no online presence struggling to operate in the increasingly socially distanced and online world triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Martha Holden Jennings Foundation and Case Western Reserve University partnered to provide funding for the project.

Businesses participating in the project include Bill Kap Piano, David’s Challenge Young Achievers Ohio, the East Cleveland Neighborhood Center, the Falafel Café, Gus’s Old Brooklyn Family Restaurant, the Historical Society of Old Brooklyn, the JDL Treat and Flower Shoppe, and the Northeast Ohio Alliance for Hope.

Business owners, students, and marketing advisors will continue to meet throughout February and March to discuss their goals, and will gather online on a weekly basis to discuss their progress, with the next meeting scheduled for February 22.

Meeting date: February 15, 2021