September 19, 2023 | Main Spotlight: Exploring the Summer Intern Projects | By: Marta Olmos, Associate Manager of Content and Communications |
This summer, Main Street America was fortunate to work with three wonderful interns. Majd Alsaif joined the Research team as the Downtown Buildings and Vacancy Intern, Leilani Commons served as the Government Relations Intern, and Celeste Constancio joined the Communications department as the Digital Marketing Intern. We are excited to share the results of their projects.
Majd Alsaif, Downtown Buildings and Vacancy Intern
Vacant and underutilized buildings have huge potential to be reused and reinvigorate downtowns and local economies, but without a structured and holistic understanding of how vacancy appears in a community, it is difficult to address the challenge and implement solutions. Majd worked with the Research team to help create a tool that Main Street communities can use to collect and record this data as easily and efficiently as possible.
The tool combines an easy mobile survey interface and dashboard view, with the idea that each community can survey their entire Main Street to see what the rate of key characteristics like vacancy, disrepair, and historic significance looks like in their district. To test their tool, they set up a pilot project with eight Main Street programs from across the network. Participants completed a 16-question survey of all the properties in their district. The pilot resulted in a huge range of feedback on data types, user experiences, and new use cases.
“Speaking directly with community leaders was truly the highlight of this experience,” said Majd. “Being able to talk through the issues they have had in addressing challenges and problem-solving alongside them to find a solution allowed me to see how one idea could evolve into so many possibilities. With the roll-out of the final inventory tool early next year, I'm eager to see how this tool will be used by all the different programs across the country.”
Leilani Commons, Government Relations Intern
The Main Street America network is comprised of a system of local districts and Coordinating Program partners. In 41 states, four large cities, and one county, Main Street Coordinating Programs provide essential resources, technical assistance, training, and capacity building activities to strengthen the ability of local programs to cultivate revitalization programs and projects. Leilani’s summer internship provided an opportunity to review recent surveys of MSA’s Coordinating Program network, analyze trends, and review existing materials across the website and materials.
Leilani’s work will form the basis of a new report aimed at helping current and emerging Coordinating Programs to communicate with decision-makers about the value of Coordinating Programs as a policy solution to commercial corridor disinvestment. The report will include information to help decision-makers understand how current Coordinating Programs are structured either as public agencies or public-private nonprofit organizations, aiding in establishing new Coordinating Programs and expanding those that are currently under-resourced.
Celeste Constancio, Digital Marketing Intern
Digital marketing is a crucial tool that Main Street America uses to share resources and highlight success stories from across the network. Celeste’s internship focused on creating engaging and informative content for our social media channels, including YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. She undertook two major video series projects as well as creating a myriad of other posts and digital assets.
Her debut series was Meet the Interns, a three-part video series introducing each of the summer interns to our social media audiences. Celeste was responsible for planning the series, interviewing the interns, and editing the clips into videos tailored for multiple channels. The second series Celeste produced was the Black Business Month Series. For this series, she identified Black-owned businesses in Main Street communities, worked with the business owners and local Main Street staff to collect interview footage, and compiled the footage into polished final videos.
Celeste also helped us with our continuing effort to sort and archive digital media assets for future use in our multimedia database. Her work will ensure that we have high-quality photos and videos to use in blogs and future promotional materials.
“Working within an established brand was eye-opening and learning from my supervisors and receiving feedback was rewarding,” said Celeste of her internship experience. “My experience being an intern with Main Street America was nothing short of a great learning experience. The knowledge I’ve gained and my experiences with Main Street America have helped set the foundation for digital marketing that I was striving to build.”