Maryville University’s Digital Development Project is designed to help tackle the widening digital skills and marketing gap among small-business owners of color in the St. Louis area.
The COVID-19 pandemic posed unexpected challenges for small businesses. Fed Small Business reported in 2021 that 57% of firms in the U.S. characterized their financial condition as “fair” or “poor” during the pandemic. But in underrepresented communities of color, this percentage increased dramatically.
Some owners were able to pivot online, while others struggled to obtain the digital expertise they needed to adapt to this new environment. But digital skills are crucial for modern businesses that want to keep pace with our changing economy. According to McKinsey & Company, U.S. e-commerce penetration is growing at lightning speed, jumping about 17 points in just three months from late 2019 through early 2020. That’s more growth than occurred in the previous 10 years combined.
That’s why Maryville is thrilled to announce the launch of the Digital Development Project. Together with our organizational partners, we are helping entrepreneurs of color in St. Louis develop new skills and navigate the demands of running a business online.
Percentage of minority-owned firms who reported “fair” or “poor” economic conditions following the pandemic
What is Maryville University’s Digital Development Project?
We offered 44 business owners in St. Louis free enrollment into the 10-week Maryville Digital Marketing Certificate Program powered by Pearson. Through this program, these entrepreneurs are connecting with a network of expert advisors and learning the fundamentals of e-commerce, digital marketing channels, analytics, measurement platforms, strategies, and tactics. Additionally, experts recommended by each organization are serving as business advisors, providing guidance on vital topics like e-commerce, acquiring loans, and business skills.
A special message from Dr. Mark Lombardi
Maryville has partnered with six organizations to power this project:
Side-by-side supporters: The network of advisors
Along with passion, a reliable team of supporters can make all the difference for small-business owners. We connected participants with a network of specialty advisors who were able to offer insight on topics like e-commerce, human resources, mental wellness, leadership, and financial funding.
These industry experts shared their personal experiences and gave practical advice to complement our Digital Marketing Certificate Program. They helped the entrepreneurs learn new ways to grow their ventures and extend their networks.
Market President and Director of Community Economic Development, Midland States Bank
Associate Professor of Communication at Maryville University
Assistant Professor of Business & Financial Services at Maryville University
CEO, LifeWork Systems | TV Show Host of Evolve Now!
Founder & Creative Director, Border Free Media
Owner and Lead Web Developer, CentralJA
Trecia K. Davis, MSW, LCSW
Chief Executive Officer & Lead Therapist, Equal Shares Parenting, LLC & Super Social Workers, LLC
Program Director of Inclusive Business Solutions at Greater STL Inc.
Founder of the Heartland St. Louis Black Chamber of Commerce
“In partnership with five community advocacy organizations, Maryville University is leveraging its legacy of helping people rapidly acquire new knowledge and skills through online learning. We are honored to serve and support small businesses in the St. Louis region and beyond.”
— Dr. Mark Lombardi, President of Maryville University
“As a St. Louis native, I’m proud to be a part of a program that directly benefits the community and provides economic empowerment to underserved small-business owners.”
— Laraine Davis, Vice President of Community and Government Relations at Maryville University
A special message from Laraine Davis
Learners’ goals. Our purpose.
For nearly 150 years, Maryville University has offered nationally recognized educational experiences with a student-first focus and commitment to innovation. But we don’t rest on our history. We’re continually focused on the future — especially helping you reach your personal and professional goals.
That’s our aim with the Digital Development Project. It’s part of our workforce development initiative, designed to help professionals quickly reskill and upskill so they can take advantage of the demand-driven careers of today and tomorrow.
Our online programs help level the playing field and make high-quality college education accessible for everyone. In fact, it’s our specialty. That’s why 96% of our online bachelor’s graduates have a job or enroll in advanced education programs within six months of graduating.
Maryville’s online certificates can help you gain the real-world experience to fulfill your potential — because we measure our success by yours. Take the next step and discover your personalized path to a high-quality education today.
See how Maryville can help.