In mid-March 2020, the Old Brooklyn Development Corporation identified a real and immediate problem. Many of the brick-and-mortar businesses in its community had little or no online presence, and were struggling to operate in the increasingly socially distanced and virtual world brought by the pandemic. In response, NeoSTEM leaders developed WIR’ED, a simple, straightforward, and impactful solution to the problems shopkeepers face operating online.

With coordination from the NeoSTEM ecosystem and numerous other partners, WIR’ED teams students with marketing professionals and business owners to create and expand businesses’ websites and social media, and teach business owners how to manage their online presence during the pandemic.

WHAT IS WIRED?

The Goal

WIR’ED addresses the pandemic’s effects on students and shopkeepers by: 1) closing the learning gaps caused by shifting and uncertain school schedules; 2) helping shopkeepers combat the effects of business shutdowns and social distancing measures; and 3) giving students confidence that they have skills and knowledge that are valued by “adults.”

The Plan

In its two successful pilots, WIR’ED has paired tech-savvy students from CMSD and East Cleveland with local businesses in need of an online overhaul. Students lend their tech expertise to businesses, and businesses provide students with real-world opportunities to problem-solve.

The Partners

For its second pilot, which launched in February 2021, CMSD and East Cleveland students are partnered with Bill Kap Piano, David’s Challenge Young Achievers Ohio, the East Cleveland Neighborhood Center, Falafel Café, Gus’s Old Brooklyn Restaurant, the Historical Society of Old Brooklyn, JLD Treat and Flower Shoppe, and the Northeast Ohio Alliance for Hope.

In its third pilot, which launches in Summer 2021, NeoSTEM is proud to partner with Verizon and Youth Opportunities Unlimited to continue the WIR’ED mission of connecting students and businesses throughout northeast Ohio.

The Results

The students’ successes in WIR’ED speak for themselves.

The Historical Society of Old Brooklyn LogoLogo produced by Cleveland School of Science and Medicine student Ryckia Sutton and John Marshall School of Information and Technology student Abdullahi Muhamed, on behalf of the Historical Society of Old Brooklyn.

“I learned how to be more patient.”- ~ Jalecia Claytor, Shaw High School
“The experience was fun for me because I didn’t really know much about the program, and learning about it was pretty cool. Using Canva was very eye-opening for me, because I never used it before. And working with `{`my teammate`}` was an amazing thing, too. She was an amazing partner.”- ~ Nevaeh Hagens, Shaw High School
“The first thing that I learned, that this has helped to clarify for me, is that I want business to be a part of my life.” “I learned I can use my creative mind, how to use my creative self.” ‘It’s good to share ideas with people.”- ~ Moises Tuyas, Cleveland School of the Arts
“I learned that people tend to think that businesses don’t do a lot, but if you work with them, you figure out that they have a lot of things they have to do. You have to be patient, and work with other people’s schedules, and you have to get work done when it needs to be done.”- ~ Shiane Clark, James Ford Rhodes High School
“I’ve learned a lot through this program. A big thing that I learned was how to ask questions. I definitely learned how to ask questions when you’re interviewing.”- ~ Kayla Brown, Facing History New Tech High School
“Joining this program taught me so much. Be patient. Get your work done on time. Just be there for each other and work together in order for it to work out for you, and keep on trying, and don’t give up. From here on out, I want to focus on graduating and getting a new place for me and my kid. But this `{`business ownership`}` is what I want to do.”- ~ Halima Mohamed, Lincoln-West School of Science and Health