Youth on the Pleasantville campus are gaining marketable job skills thanks to a partnership with 4th Ave Market, the largest Black-owned online hair and beauty supply store. The course participants spend an hour and half each Wednesday learning digital marketing from the company’s CEO, Salim Holder.

“Participants in the 4th Avenue Empowerment Program work directly with our partner brands and learn skills relating to digital marketing and e-Commerce– competencies that are currently in high demand,” said Holder. “Each participant gets to work with their instructor and brand representative to create a complete marketing campaign. As a for-profit social enterprise, we want to leverage our status to not only provide high quality products to our consumers but also offer educational services to help improve confidence among young people.”

Specific skills that participants learn include identifying and prioritizing advertising targets, learning best practices for creating paid ads, understanding how to create viral marketing content, and identifying top reasons to use certain platforms to drive sales. These skills are needed across a large number of industries. According to Deloitte and the American Marketing Associations’ February 2022 Highlights and Insights Report, investment by companies in all digital marketing activities have increased since last year.

Data also shows that foster youth need to be supported in their educational pursuits. New York City’s Center for Innovation Through Data Intelligence reports that even before the COVID-19 pandemic only 25% of children in foster care were graduating high school within four years. In comparison, the graduation rate for students in city public schools overall is about 81%.

“We know that not everyone takes a traditional route to college and this program offers our young people early exposure to skills that can lead to great jobs in the future,” said Lauren Johnson, Director of JCCA’s Leadership, Education and Achievement Pathways Division. “Since our founding 200 years ago, JCCA has been dedicated to improving the lives of the young people we work with and this is just one of the ways we are doing that while they maneuver their journey to be future leaders, and the participants are really enjoying their time in the program.”

Students are excited about the opportunity to learn these practical and marketable skills.

“I don’t think I would be able to learn things like this if JCCA didn’t give me the chance to be in the course,” said 14-year-old Arganae McGeary. “The skills I am learning in the class are so new to me but I am gaining confidence as I do more and more with it.”

19-year-old Demetrius Edmonds said, “It’s so fun learning from the instructor and seeing my hard work come together. I can’t wait to present my campaign and get feedback about it.”

Holder does these training courses on a larger scale for companies including Anheuser-Busch, Carrier, Tweezerman, Diageo, and Unilever, as well as for smaller nonprofits and start-ups, but this is the first time he is offering the course for teens and young adults.

Students will present their final campaign results at the end of the course, and will celebrate their accomplishments with a block party and certificate ceremony.