PCSDConnects Goes Virtual, Beginning with September’s Pitch Challenge Competition for Parma Schools Students

From Cleveland.com

PARMA, Ohio — Entering its second year after transitioning from the previously named CBS Connects, PCSDConnects continues to inspire Parma City School District students with workforce development opportunities and college readiness.

However, due to COVID-19, the initiative has pivoted accordingly to accommodate students learning from home.

“Being virtual to start the school year, we really wanted to kind of keep kids engaged and give them the opportunity to still work on 21st century skills even when they’re at home and not necessarily in the classroom,” PCSDConnects Workforce Development Administrative Specialist Chuck Caldwell said.

PCSDConnects is not only inspired by the Young Entrepreneur Institute, but it uses curriculum and worksheets provided by the University School initiative. The current schedule includes pitch challenges (grades K-12) scheduled for September, October and November.

Additional PCSDConnects competitions include a second-quarter stock market challenge for grades 4-12, a third-quarter young entrepreneur day for grades 2-8 and a fourth-quarter tech challenge. Details and age groups regarding the latter are forthcoming.

The September pitch challenge — which finds students divided into age divisions of K-4, 5-8 and 9-12 — involves a business idea. Participants will identify a problem or need that can be solved through the creation of a product or service.

“They’re going to create a 30- to 90-second video to pitch that business idea, which can be anything,” Caldwell said.

The purpose of the pitch challenge is to engage students in instilling life skills in a fun way that highlights the importance of communication. The winner of each division will receive a $50 Amazon gift card. Other participants will be placed in a random drawing for an additional $50 Amazon gift card.

The October pitch contest requires students to create a pitch about why people should support or donate to an organization that’s important to them. The November contest will be a bit meta, as the kids will be pitching ideas on how to improve remote learning.

“We’ll also be doing some virtual workshops for kids in grades 9-12 on resume writing and interviewing skills,” Caldwell said. “We’re going to be doing some 21st century skills activities where students can earn digital badges by completing the curriculum.

“They can earn badges by doing virtual contests, as well as attending the workshops. They’ll also have the opportunity to win prizes.”

While participation in PCSDConnects is promoted for all high school marketing and business class students, Caldwell said overall, the goal is to attract kids from every grade.

“We’re not really looking to target a specific student, because it is a 21st century skill to be able to present and communicate an idea, but there’s going to be certain students who are interested in it,” Caldwell said.

“Any kid who has an interest in working on hands-on things, creating ideas and has that entrepreneurial spirit, those are the kids we want to participate.”