Date of Project
This Trek Included
Neighborhood Allies is a Pittsburgh-based community development partner that embraces its multifaceted role as a “funder, lender, connector, and consultant” for Pittsburgh communities seeking strategic leadership to renew their neighborhoods and invite meaningful participation from the residents they serve.
Trailhead: Where We Started
Based on the success of a previous collaboration during its Beyond the Laptops campaign, Neighborhood Allies sought further strategic guidance from TrailBlaze Creative in branding and implementing a new digital inclusion initiative focused on education and empowerment in the realm of tech workforce development. Recognizing that by 2030, 7 out of 10 jobs in Pennsylvania will require computer skills, Neighborhood Allies aimed to provide regional residents increased and equitable access to career-oriented education in tech fields that are 17% more lucrative than non-digital middle-skill jobs.
Trek: Steps We’ve Taken
With funding support from a Verizon grant aimed at assisting tech workforce development among underserved populations, Neighborhood Allies first requested assistance from TrailBlaze in developing new branding for its “LevelUp 412” initiative. Early in the collaboration, Neighborhood Allies successfully partnered with local and regional educational organizations like CCAC and Womxn in Tech to organize tech-centered educational opportunities for underrepresented populations, negotiating adjusted course rates with institutions to provide low-cost courses with an emphasis on attracting women, minorities, and youth in tech.
To promote and maximize participation in this initiative, TrailBlaze Creative designed and developed a website to market the newly negotiated courses, integrating “Career Personas” as well as a Career Assessment Quiz, designed by Womxn in Tech, to help users assess which careers in the tech industry synchronize with their talents and interests. The TrailBlaze-designed personas offer multimedia “day in the life” portraits of tasks, challenges, and advancement opportunities related to different careers in the tech industry. Leveraging existing experience in compiling workforce data for clients like Catalyst Connection, TrailBlaze connected Neighborhood Allies with O-Net – a database operated by the Department of Labor – to ensure that persona data regarding job trends, career salaries, and other statistics were accurately represented to users. TrailBlaze successfully organized, interpreted, and integrated this data into the Career Persona pages while collaborating with Womxn in Tech to ensure that featured roles like Web Developer, Programmer, and Cyber Security Specialist, showcased the work of underserved populations in the tech industry, capturing different aspects of their daily work and encouraging others to learn and participate in Neighborhood Allies’ sponsored programming.
In conjunction with work in the areas of web development, branding, and data management, TrailBlaze provided Neighborhood Allies with social media assistance, graphic design, and direct communications for Pittsburgh Public Schools and other partners. Specifically, at the request of Neighborhood Allies, TrailBlaze created collateral to promote youth participation in tech-oriented coursework, convincing Neighborhood Allies to broaden the audience appeal to parents, as well. This widened appeal was designed to increase overall participation in educational programming, but also to inspire multiple populations to “level up.”
Summit: Vision Realized
As a result of TrailBlaze’s responsive branding and marketing efforts, the tech-centered courses offered by Neighborhood Allies and their partners exceeded available capacity very quickly. With future semesters approaching, additional course offerings and the marketing of further education & empowerment efforts will follow. In addition to making measurable progress in its mission to advance digital inclusion in the city of Pittsburgh, Neighborhood Allies has since received positive press and feedback from their primary funder, Verizon, opting to retain TrailBlaze’s services for the next phase of its digital inclusion programming. TrailBlaze’s strategic guidance in the Level Up 412 campaign has also situated Neighborhood Allies as a national model for effectively and efficiently implementing Verizon’s program goals, serving as a “living case study” as the initiative is implemented in other cities nationwide.