B.C. digital marketing program joins forces with national charity to offer scholarships for Indigenous people

B.C.-based digital marketing program Jelly Academy has partnered with national charity Indspire to offer 20 scholarships to Indigenous students.

Credit: Indspire

The new effort, driven by Jelly Academy and Indspire, will see 20 Indigenous students learn industry fundamentals

If you’re an Indigenous person looking to join the digital marketing industry, here’s a chance to get a headstart.

Jelly Academy—a course created by Fort Langley–based Jelly Digital Marketing and PR—has partnered with national charity Indspire to offer 20 full scholarships to Indigenous students.

“We’re so excited to be seeing more Indigenous people joining the sector,” Jelly founder Darian Kovacs tells BCBusiness. “We are striving to get more Indigenous people those skills so that they can get jobs right away.”

During the part-time, six-week course, scholarship recipients will learn the fundamentals of search engine optimization (SEO), digital ads, Google Analytics, social media and public relations—no prior knowledge necessary.

The scholarships are available to members of the Indspire community. Recognized by Charity Intelligence Canada as a Top 10 Impact Charity for five straight years, the Ontario-based organization invests in education for First Nations, Inuit and Métis people.

By teaming up with Jelly, Indspire aims to help close a notable gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous workers. As of 2016, just 2.2 percent of Canadian tech employees were Indigenous, a 2019 Ryerson University study notes.

“This new partnership with Jelly Academy is exciting for a number of reasons,” said Rebecca Chartrand, VP of programs and student success at Indspire, in a release. “Not only is it a significant new opportunity for Indigenous learners to upskill in fields where they have historically been underrepresented and underserved, it also represents the genesis of an exciting new relationship between Indspire and Jelly Academy.”

Jelly Academy also partners with the B.C.-based First Nations Technology Council and charity NPower Canada to offer scholarships for Indigenous and other students. Another partner is Best Buy Canada, which has committed to provide hardware to scholarship recipients who lack it. “We both saw [Indigenous people] wanting to go into this sector, but one of the barriers was proper and quality hardware to do the work,” Kovacs says.

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Thanks to those alliances, Jelly Academy graduated just over 40 students on scholarships last quarter. With the program now running four times annually, Kovacs hopes to sustain the momentum. “If we can continue to see 30 to 40 Indigenous students entering the marketing and digital tech sector every quarter, that’s the goal,” he says, adding that “160 a year would be amazing.”

Reflecting on being an Indigenous business owner during the past year of awareness and discoveries, Kovacs admits that it’s been a struggle. “It was just so depressing and sad,” he recalls. “So this is our small way to say, OK, I can wear an orange shirt, I can put up an orange sticker on social media. But if we can get scholarships to get students trained with certificates and jobs, that could help. It was our practical way to help.”