Volunteering to Close the Digital Divide

By Mary O’Connell, senior director – PR & Digital Content

​For the second year, Clorox Marketing’s digital and social teams are helping small business owners and design students via a partnership with the Oakland Digital Arts and Literacy Center (ODALC). For small business owners in Oakland, it’s meant help with their social media planning, websites and Pinterest boards; for design students, it’s opened up career mentoring and a chance at an internship.

“We know how much digital understanding means to all us right now — from iconic brands to a small business just starting out or a student starting a career,” says Janice Bird, assistant digital planner for Clorox, who helped develop the partnership.  “If you’re starting out, Silicon Valley can seem very far away.”

ODALC was founded in 2009 by a group of digital designers and developers, led by Oakland native Shaun Tai, who wanted to find a way to close the digital and opportunity divide they saw all around them. Clorox’s digital team started by volunteering to help judge a billboard contest. One thing led to another.

“Our students get so much out of the sessions with the Clorox team,” Tai says. “It’s a chance for advice and help from real world practitioners who happen to work just a few blocks away.”

This year, Clorox PR/Social Media group manager Rita Gorenberg organized workshops for small business owners enrolled in the organization’s Digital Equity program. The idea: provide direct, hands-on help with digital tools, social media platforms and marketing basics. Applicants for the program the Digital Equity program must be over 40 years old, qualify as low to middle income and operate a brick and mortar business in Oakland that employs between one to five people.

In addition to the workshops, the Clorox team also has held “portfolio review days” for students enrolled in Inspire, another ODALC program. Inspire is a six-week professional development course for community and state college students who are hoping for a career in graphic and digital design. Through Clorox Marketing, Inspire students earn a chance for an internship with Clorox Digital Labs (CDL). The internships run for three months and, last year, one of the interns was offered a junior design position in CDL.

If you’re interested in donating to Oakland Digital, go to www.odalc.org. If you’d like to help out with the workshops, contact Rita.Gorenberg@Clorox.com.