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South DECA club helps Mentor Me with its message
South Forsyth High students Elizabeth Heard and Trent Schick, members of the schools DECA club, recently presented awareness enhancement proposals for Mentor Me North Georgia. - photo by For the Forsyth County News

SOUTH FORSYTH — Marketing students at South Forsyth High recently put a school project to real-life practice when they presented recommendations to enhance a local nonprofit’s community awareness.

The 26 advanced Distributive Education Clubs of America, or DECA, students proposed marketing and messaging strategies to Mentor Me North Georgia, an organization that works to improve the lives of children ages 6-17 through mentoring programs.

Mentor Me faced challenges with increasing its awareness throughout Forsyth but had only a $500 budget to do so, according to Debra Moore, South’s DECA adviser and marketing instructor.

“They researched how many people did already know about [Mentor Me] and the best way to get the word out,” Moore said. “They asked, what would the community pay attention to?”

Groups of two or three students took their own research results and created a complete marketing plan, Moore said, including four or five different ways to promote the organization while staying within the budget. They included reports and a presentation board, complete with printed and designed items instead of plans. For example, if students recommended making a new flyer, they created one.

“It was a really good experience for the students to have to be in that professional setting,” Moore said.

One team plans to take its project to the international DECA competition in April, where 15,000 students showcase marketing projects in Orlando, Fla.

DECA prepares students in high school and college for careers in marketing, finance, hospitality and management. The high school division includes 185,000 members in 5,000 schools.

South’s 750-member DECA club, for which Moore has been the adviser for 18 years, is the largest chapter in the world.

According to Moore, the general response from the Mentor Me directors was that they were impressed with the freshness and modernity of the ideas. They have begun implementing some recommendations.

“The students did a spectacular job of capturing the essence of what we do, creating ideas to help bring attention to our organization and suggesting activities that we can implement to help raise additional funds,” said Sylvia Cardona, executive director of Mentor Me. “I was very impressed with their research and how they presented the information. They were very thorough, and their plans were clear and concise.

“The caliber of creativity, professionalism and the attention to detail the DECA students demonstrated makes me appreciate what a valuable resource we have in our community for organizations like Mentor Me who have great missions but limited budgets.”