Young Harlem Students Learn Marketing Skills

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Principal Beverly Lewis—who joined the partnership after stepping into her job in 2004—said that the annual program—called “The Future Marketers Program”—has been transformative in developing students’ self-confidence, presentation abilities, college preparedness, and academic engagement

[Education]

A group of fifteen sixth-grade students from the Mahalia Jackson Elementary School in West Harlem recently completed a year-long marketing training program by pitching the integrated campaign to executives at Ogilvy North America, including CEO Carla Hendra.

Their pitches for a new Motorola cell phone concept—the “Imagine”—and related 360-degree campaign elements were geared to pre-teenagers and their parents.  Media and creative concepts included television, radio, print, online, interactive, and out-of-home placements. 

This marks the seventh year Ogilvy has been partnered with the Mahalia Jackson School under Hendra’s leadership through the nonprofit organization PENCIL, which inspires innovative solutions to the challenges facing New York City public schools by facilitating customized relationships between business leaders and principals.

Principal Beverly Lewis—who joined the partnership after stepping into her job in 2004—said that the annual program—called “The Future Marketers Program”—has been transformative in developing  students’ self-confidence, presentation abilities, college preparedness, and academic engagement—all while exposing them to the array of careers in marketing and advertising.

For instance, both this year’s valedictorian and salutatorian come from the Future Marketers Program and earned the highest math and reading scores in their school.  And by developing students’ presentation and writing skills, the program is credited with helping the school meet New York State Learning Standards. 

“Our partnership with Ogilvy has been instrumental in preparing our students for the 21st century,” Principal Lewis said.  “Through the Future Marketers Program, students are gaining an increased sense of personal responsibility, they are learning how to collaborate as a team, and they are getting to see firsthand how the private sector works.  I continue to be astounded every year by the increased level of the children’s business skills and understanding after their experience.”

This year’s project involved approximately 100 employee mentors from Ogilvy—including account managers, project managers, and creative and technical staff—who met with students biweekly at Ogilvy’s offices to provide them general career guidance and assistance on the mock campaign for an actual client.  After helping them perform an initial research analysis of their target demographic of pre-teenagers, the Ogilvy mentors guided them the execution stages of the project leading up to their final presentation.  According to Hendra and members of her team, developing the program through their PENCIL Partnership has provided employees with a morale-building experience that helps build camaraderie at the company. 

“Seeing the students’ excitement reminds us of why we went into the advertising industry in the first place, and provides us with a way to give back to the NY community,” Hendra said.  “Every year, our commitment to the partnership grows—as does the effectiveness of our strategy and the overall program we have designed.”

PENCIL President Michael Haberman said that the evolution of the Young Marketers Program over the past seven years provides a model to other partners developing collaborations in a range of areas—including leadership development, technology, college readiness, fundraising, career awareness, curriculum enhancement, attendance, and school identity. 

“Ogilvy and the Mahalia Jackson School have set the standard by developing a groundbreaking, project-based learning program for students that is truly making a difference in their lives,” Haberman said.  “We’re inspired by their ongoing commitment and thankful for the model they are providing for other PENCIL Partners striving to develop similar projects.”

In addition to developing the Future Marketers Program this year, Ogilvy recently donated $12,000 to support a new summer school program for Mahalia Jackson students in temporary housing, who make up approximately one-third of the school population.  The program is slated to launch this summer. 

PENCIL (www.pencil.org) inspires innovative solutions to the challenges facing New York City public schools by building and supporting customized relationships between business leaders and principals.





 

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