EmpoWWering the Next Generation of Construction Leaders: The ROC

  • Categories:


  • Date:

    August 11, 2020

EmpoWWering the Next Generation of Construction Leaders: The ROC


Each year, the Wray Ward EmpoWWer program selects a group of local nonprofit organizations to receive marketing service grants that will help further their work in the Charlotte area. Framed by three pillars — creativity, shelter and advancement — EmpoWWer also gives employees a chance to give back as part of our commitment to social responsibility since we opened the agency’s doors in 1977. The ROC is one of our four 2020 EmpoWWer partners working with internal teams at Wray Ward as part of this rewarding initiative.

The ROC serves to educate and mentor high school students for technical education and career opportunities in the construction industry. Their mission resonates with Wray Ward on many levels, as our own business focuses on marketing for home and building products. Like our team, The ROC understands that construction is a dynamic field full of opportunity.

The ROC also knows that college and career choices for high school students are not one-size-fits-all.

They’ve built their organization around that knowledge, providing classroom and on-site training in the field of construction with an accredited program — Career & College Promise Pathway — for dual high school and college credits.

Students receive training in advanced carpentry, electrical, HVAC and construction management through classroom and applied learning on the job with local professional mentors. Once the students are seniors, they pick a concentration and prepare to complete an associate degree at Charlotte’s Central Piedmont Community College, go on to a four-year university or join the construction industry directly. It’s the combination of classroom skills and real-world learning that makes this program so unique and one that we are proud to support.

Recruiting and retention are the lifeblood of the program at The ROC.

Because it can be a challenge to sell a high school student and their parents on a future construction pathway, The ROC’s executive director, Darren Ash, applied for the EmpoWWer program in search of unique solutions.

In the organization’s EmpoWWer application, Darren outlined the need to establish and run The ROC social media accounts, which would allow them to better communicate with potential students and their parents. Because much of the work Darren and his team do is handled through school contacts and direct outreach, social media had not previously played into their equation.

Our Connections team quickly identified a social media strategy of organic and paid opportunities to help The ROC improve recruitment efforts and focus on retention of new students, particularly in the West Charlotte high schools where The ROC has established partnerships. Training sessions included Facebook and Instagram best practices as well as a review of photography and design tools to help enhance posts.

Because The ROC was focused on a specific geography, the bulk of our recommendations focused on paid social media through which The ROC could be more assured of reaching parents and teens who go to school and live in that area. Paid social included identifying objectives and target audiences and how the Facebook Pixel works. We were also able to develop a series of social media ads using photography the organization provided and messaging to target students and their parents. We provided comprehensive training decks so that Darren and his team can train others who work with their organization.

But we didn’t stop there. In working with EmpoWWer clients, we often identify needs that were not part of the original application, instead emerging as we’re developing solutions. In working with The ROC, we saw an immediate need for a tool that would help better manage group communication with high school students. That’s why part of our social strategy included implementing the group messaging tool, GroupMe, which will allow team members to send photos, videos and links to their students and direct messages when needed. The app allows for separate chats for each school or class and links to calendar events. We’ve never recommended a group messaging app as part of a marketing program before, but it was a perfect approach for The ROC.

The ROC has continued to recruit and reach out to students throughout the pandemic and remain optimistic about fall, when classes and on-site training can resume. In the interim, the social media strategy has been implemented by their team, and they recently shared with us that they met their recruiting goals for the year, ahead of schedule. We’re thrilled that solutions created during our EmpoWWer program will make day-to-day efforts easier, so they can continue to focus on what matters most: the students.

“Many of our high school students have been fed a false narrative that a four-year university is the only path to success. Wray Ward has been an amazing partner to help The ROC change this narrative with helping develop a new web-based recruiting platform for future students considering a construction technology pathway.” –Darren Ash, Executive Director, The ROC

Explore more articles from Wray Ward.