WIR’ED seeks to improve online presence, marketing for Cleveland shopkeepers
CLEVELAND – Students from Cleveland Metropolitan School District and businesses in the Old Brooklyn Neighborhood are being sought for the second pilot of WIR’ED, a program that pairs students and marketing professionals with business owners to improve online operations.
WIR’ED, co-developed by the NeoSTEM Ecosystem and the Old Brooklyn CDC, formed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The project is being supported by several Northeast Ohio organizations, including the Martha Holden Jennings Foundation and the Cleveland Foundation.
“We realized that many businesses in our community don’t have a strong, or in some cases, any, internet presence for marketing their business at a time when customers can’t just come in,” said Jeff Verespej, director of the Old Brooklyn CDC.
Alyssa Lenhoff-Briggs, director of the NeoSTEM Ecosystem added, “At the same time, we realized that there are countless students in our community who have great technical skills and who are in need of work.”
Lenhoff-Briggs said the added bonus is that marketing professionals from across the country have volunteered to help coach the students and the businesses.
Students will be paid $10 per hour for up to 10 weeks of work. Training for students and onboarding of businesses will begin in December. The project will begin in late January and run until April 1.
An initial pilot of the project was operated in May 2020 with 10 area students and businesses and netted positive experiences.
Mel McGee, founder of We Can Code IT, who served as the day-to-day manager of the initial pilot, has agreed to continue leading the project.
“It was inspirational to see students grow as they not only learned about technology, business, and marketing throughout the initial pilot, but also learned about leadership,” McGee said. “Helping those who were in senior positions to them was a great opportunity for the students to understand and feel their own knowledge and strength. Their transformation by the end of the project was palpable.”