Young Black people drive social media. Their wit, humor and taste power worldwide trends in pop culture, music, fashion and everything cutting edge. But while their expertise brings financial wealth to Instagram, TikTok and other channels, too often they do not themselves profit. That’s what TEC Leimert founder Rashidi Jones is working to change.
For two years, South LA-based TEC Leimert, (TEC stands for Technology and Entertainment Convergence), has trained young people in an 8-12-week program called Nxt Lvl. Nxt Lvl teaches students social media marketing and gives interns the tools they need to turn their social media prowess into profit.
“When I go to Crenshaw High School, Dorsey High School and Washington and start talking about the business of social media, I say to the students, ‘You’re driving these platforms — Jack Dorsey (Twitter’s CEO) talks about #BlackTwitter. But there’s a monetary component you’re locked out of.’“
At the end of the program, graduates are placed in paid internships at businesses that need help with social media marketing.
Destination Crenshaw, which has paid the salaries of interns working with several South LA businesses, including Jordan’s Hot Dogs and Hot and Cool Cafe, is impressed and enthusiastic about the partnership with TEC Leimert.
“The program has more than met our expectations, and we see it as a model to create immediate impact for both the interns and the South LA business community,” said Destination Crenshaw President and COO Jason Foster.
After Raine Barnes, a student at El Camino College, finished the training program, she helped Jordan’s Hot Dogs boost views and engagement, more than doubling the restaurant’s followers. But she valued the professional training as much as learning social media marketing skills.
“One of the biggest things they taught was having a strong work ethic,” Barnes said. “This program helped me be punctual and now I turn things in even before the deadline comes. Right now I’m doing classes at El Camino and that has carried over.”
Lauren Castle followed the training with an internship at NBC Universal, and now she’s also putting TEC Leimert’s marketing lessons to work for herself.
Castle, who studies business administration at Valley College, has used her newfound marketing acumen to launch an online handbag and accessories business.
“Even though my generation has been on social media forever, there’s still a lot to learn.”
Something else she’s learned? That if she’s going to use social media for business purposes, she needs to be where professionals look for talent and opportunity.”
“I didn’t know much about it before,” she said, “but now I’m on LinkedIn.”
Click here to learn more about TEC Leimert and NXT LVL.