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Marcel Digital & Tutoring Chicago - Digital Marketing Summer Program

Marcel Digital has been committed to providing meaningful service and support to philanthropic organizations for over 20 years. It’s a part of our fabric and a part of the vision for our agency. 

Recently, we’ve started to think more rigorously about the best way to make a real impact on our community. How do we truly change the lives of our fellow Chicagaoans?

After many years of volunteering our time and services for charitable causes, we asked ourselves: Is there something more we could be doing to create a more direct impact on our community? How can we take what we know and what we are good at and help our local community? 


The Idea

After an afternoon of brainstorming, we had an ambitious idea. Rather than building a website or managing search for an organization or hosting a few aspiring students for a summer, what if we built an entire program to teach kids the foundations of digital marketing and analytics? Can we change the trajectory of a young person’s life? 

Digital marketing, analytics, and UX is typically not taught formally in schools. There is no doubt it is a big part of the lives of children in some fashion, but the foundations of how technology is used to create incredible digital experiences and to market to the right users at the right time is likely something they have not yet learned.

Building out a program of this magnitude would be a challenge, but fortunately for us, we already had a foundational learning structure built with our homegrown Marcel Digital University.


About Marcel Digital University

Marcel Digital University is a comprehensive training program developed to properly onboard new team members to our processes, culture, and philosophies. It is a holistic program spanning all topics from general education to advanced learning about specific departments and disciplines. It includes instructors, course outlines, key takeaways, and an exam to test knowledge and application.

We knew that we could utilize the foundation and structure of Marcel Digital University to create a program that would not only educate students on the wide-ranging world of digital marketing, but also empower them to envision new career paths and opportunities in the future that they might not otherwise know about.

Building the Tutoring Chicago Program

The next step was figuring out how to execute the program. How could we get in front of students that would be interested? How could we collaborate with an organization that already exists to amplify the results of the training?

That’s where Tutoring Chicago came in. Ben Swartz - founder and CEO of Marcel Digital - had a long-running relationship with the organization known for providing tutoring to students facing economic barriers. He was a tutor in the program for many years. After a handful of meetings to pitch the digital marketing program and to solidify the details, a date was set and the plan was in motion. 

This program has now been in the works for a little over a year and it has taken a considerable investment of time and energy to build out the course curriculum, outlines, and presentations to provide the students with a comprehensive understanding of the digital marketing industry. This included foundational education on digital marketing channels (such as paid media and SEO), but also overviews of potential careers and career paths for roles within those specializations. 

The idea was to provide students with a structured education on digital marketing, from the basic information all the way to real-world application and measurement. We have the students split out into groups and each group works together to select their dream client. Throughout the duration of the program each group will be working through mini-projects for their 'client' and present them to the instructors on the final day of the program. Each day of the program a new digital marketing topic will be covered then the students will get in their groups to complete their 'client deliverable' based on what they just learned. 

Our goal was to not only open the student’s up to a future in digital marketing, but also jump start it by guiding them through all the ways they can start applying these skills in their clubs/ classes/ hobbies by the end of the program.


The Results

We are excited to have launched our inaugural 2024 program with a group of 26 incredible students (which far exceeded our expectations of turnout) in partnership with Tutoring Chicago, and have been very excited to bring our expertise to such an eager group of students. We are continuing to build the program, and this first group of students is helping us shape an educational offering that we will evolve and improve for next year’s program and beyond. 

  • Philanthropy

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About the author

Tom Kelly

Tom has worked in digital marketing since he started his career over a decade ago, working across the project and account side of the business.