CLEVELAND – At the club level of FirstEnergy Stadium, a small group of young professionals gathered for a four-day sports marketing workshop. During these four days, participants discovered the industry, networked with professionals and received tools to help them in any career they might venture into.
The workshop took place in collaboration with the Marcus Graham Project and Black Sports Professionals of Cleveland, which brought in over 20 applicants interested in the sports industry to participate in the event and expand diversity within the industry.
“There is a huge disparity in the diversity of employees of color in athletic roles,” said Larry Yarrell, director of project development Marcus Graham. “For applicants of color, the opportunities are much slimmer and the path is often much harder to follow. What our organization shows them are different ways they can get into the industry and we put them in front of the people who actually make the decisions. at hiring. For organizations like the Cleveland Browns looking for diverse talent, this is a perfect solution. “
Over the course of the four days, attendees not only took part in panels and educational programs, but also teamed up in groups to create a marketing plan for the Browns themselves.
Each group collaborated, creating a marketing plan for Browns’ Be The Solution campaign and social justice, bringing a young and diverse perspective to the team’s approach.
During the week, the teams created their marketing pitches, culminating in a presentation to a group of Browns reps who picked a winner at the end of the day.
The winning group, consisting of Katie Schroeder, Bryce Walker-Ollins, Noah Pena and Taylor Banks, were praised for their ideas and the way they presented them to the Browns.
“Either we’re going to look at them and say, ‘Dude, why haven’t we thought about that? It’s so easy and so smart to do. Yeah, let’s do it now, ”Yarrell said. “Or we’re going to look at it and say, ‘Oh my God, this is crazy, there’s no way we can do all of this, but it’s so stupid that we can pick a couple of things that have to. meaning, ‘and this group had a bit of both. “
After recognizing the work of the winning group, an MVP of the Weekly Event was nominated and awarded a trip to Dallas, Texas, to participate in the Marcus Graham Project’s iCR8 Summer BootCamp.
That winner was Joshua Hatch, a 25-year-old social programs specialist with Franklin County Children’s Services.
Hatch, a Wright State University graduate who earned his degree in psychology, works as an adoption recruiter and sacrificed a major moment in his career to attend the Browns workshop.
“Fortunately, I was able to quit my job, but I am very passionate about the field of child protection. I grew up in foster care so I have a different outlook and I take this very seriously because these are children who have a future and we as social workers … it is important to be in their lives, ”Hatch said. “In fact, I had the adoption on Wednesday from a group of siblings and I couldn’t be there. This is a group that I have done all the work for to really help them find a family.
Hatch said he was able to FaceTime the kids and praise them on their permanence, which was worth it, even more so after winning the MVP award.
Now, with new experiences under his belt and additional career growth awaiting him in Dallas, Hatch hopes to pursue this new path in marketing with his ability to bring a diverse background to the field – which he credited to the event at FirstEnergy Stadium.
“It makes me feel like I’m included. It’s a bit like a drop in the ocean, but a multitude of drops make the ocean. I think it’s amazing that the Cleveland Browns are leading this, pushing this, making it a priority for their brand and their organization, ”Hatch said. “I really think that’s something other organizations are going to look at and say, ‘We have to look more like the Cleveland Browns, we have to look at what the Cleveland Browns are doing because they are doing it the right way. . “
Be the solution
The Browns have championed diversity and inclusion within their organization, and the four-day workshop put the words into action and solidified the team’s commitment to making change not only in the local community but in all the countries.
“Last year we launched the solution and [General Manager] Andrew Berry talked about having a dialogue and having conversations about change and how we can all improve our local community, as well as society, and that’s the next step, ”Jenner Tekancic said, Browns vice president of community relations. “We wanted diversity. thought, we wanted a collaboration with young professionals because we don’t have all the answers and the answers come when we can all work together and find the next thing we should do to elevate the solution and this workshop really helped provide these pathways. “
The Browns aimed to be the leaders of a culture change resulting from the social unrest of the summer of 2020. This week’s workshop was just one of many initiatives, but certainly not the last.
“This is the first time that we have had a workshop like this, and I would plan it in our future, absolutely,” Tekancic said.
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