From bakers in Pittsburgh to a teacher in Charleston, people across the country are using technology to achieve their goals. Here are a few of their stories.
With help from Merit America, Yves completed the Google IT Support Professional Certificate and went from part-time work to a career in IT, making his goals a reality.
After retiring from the Marines, Ernest Johnson opened Old School Boxing Center in San Diego. Over the years he’s learned how to grow an online presence, and by adding the veteran-led badge to his Google My Business listing, he’s able to reach more clients in Google Maps and Search who are looking to support veteran-led businesses.
Detroit residents Kyle and Bo make furniture using salvaged materials from local buildings. When COVID hit, they had to close their showroom. But they quickly got everything up on their website, and figured out how to use digital tools to start selling their pieces across the country.
Longtime friends Pernell and Rod co-founded BLK & Bold Coffee in 2018, and since then it’s grown to a 12 person operation. By adding the Black-owned badge to their Google My Business listing, they’re connecting with customers in Google Maps and Search who are looking to support Black-owned businesses. And with 5% of their proceeds going to support at-risk youth, the more BLK & Bold grows, the greater their impact.
Sadie Kurzban was juggling how to scale her fitness studios, when COVID threw her for a loop. Within the first few days of the shutdown, she learned to livestream her classes on YouTube. Since then, half of her members have continued paying their monthly fee, and she’s hoping to keep teaching online even after her studios reopen.
Sisters Betsy Núñez and Emily Núñez Cavness grew up in a military family, and Emily was an officer in the U.S. Army for five years. Inspired by their entrepreneurial mother and grandmother, they founded Sword & Plough, which designs one-of-a-kind, made-in-the-USA bags and accessories, created from repurposed military surplus and durable military grade materials. They also support veteran jobs across the country through their veteran-owned manufacturing partners, brand ambassador program, and their own employees.
At the Academy of Music Production Education and Development (AMPED) in Louisville, KY, parents like Danette use the Applied Digital Skills curriculum to expand their skill sets, bolster their resumes, and power their job searches.
Jake Foreman of New Mexico Community Capital, a nonprofit organization based in Albuquerque, uses the Applied Digital Skills curriculum to help Native American entrepreneurs learn new skills to grow their businesses.
After retiring from the military, Kevin began brewing beer with the help of YouTube tutorials. Less than two years later, he and Meredith founded a successful craft brewery whose mission is to give back to veterans and their community.
As a bike enthusiast, Ryan McFarland couldn’t wait to share his love for riding with his two-year-old son. Instead of waiting for his son to grow old enough to use a traditional bike, Ryan invented a pedal-less bike that his toddler could ride immediately. He started Strider Bikes in 2007 and has since sold 2.5 million bikes worldwide, bringing joy to little riders in 78 countries. Today, international sales account for 60% of all Strider Bikes sold annually.
Louisiana Crawfish Company started out small 35 years ago. Now, this family business ships two million pounds of seafood all across the country. Here’s how they did it.
After years working as a hairdresser and cosmetology teacher, Melinda decided to make a career change. She recently earned a Google IT Support Professional Certificate through her local community college, and is on her way to becoming an IT support specialist.
When Dr. Tye and Courtney Caldwell discovered that 40% of salon and barbershop space goes unused every day, they saw an opportunity. The husband-and-wife duo created ShearShare, an app that connects salon and barbershop owners to stylists who can fill empty chairs in their shops in more than 400 cities worldwide.
For Civic Eagle founder Damola Ogundipe, improving democracy wasn’t just a business opportunity—it was personal. Inspired by years of attempting to navigate our legal system as an undocumented immigrant in Minnesota, Damola created Enview, an app designed to make legislation accessible and transparent. Now, advocacy groups (as wells as interested voters) can discover and track legislation, and pin-point the exact areas that they need to focus on to make real social and legislative change.
Possip is an app that prompts parents for weekly feedback on how schools and teachers are doing and then turns that parent engagement into data that schools use to track trends, solve problems, and bring joy to teachers and parents.
At the Gateway Program at Richard J. Daley College in Chicago, students like Rutilia and Ulises uses Google's Applied Digital Skills curriculum to build practical computer skills that can help them prepare and succeed in new jobs.
Wife-and-wife team Morgan and Arley founded Ladyfingers Letterpress in Colorado Springs after their own wedding invitation went viral. As they grew, they learned to use digital tools to reach new customers near and far. Now they ship their hand-printed greeting cards worldwide, with half of their sales originating from their website.
Marine veteran Noah Currier learned to use digital tools to grow his online apparel company Oscar Mike. As revenue increases, it’s used to fund his Oscar Mike Foundation which keeps injured veterans on the move through adaptive sports.
Making shoes is Sara's passion. Making them in America is her mission. The web is making it simpler for her to connect with more customers, and Google is helping.
As a military spouse, Kelly moved 5 times over 6 years, which made it difficult to build a long-term career despite her education and work experience. This changed when she found a job as a program manager where she can work from home–and stay on remotely after her next move.
Chris’ grandparents opened Borgatti’s in 1935. As customers started retiring and moving out of their Bronx neighborhood, they asked Chris and his wife Joan when they would start shipping. So Joan learned to put up a website, and now they ship their handmade pasta all over the country.
Pierre opened a handbag factory after immigrating to America. Decades later, when stores and little boutiques that were buying from them started going out of business, his son Alex learned to use digital tools to reach customers online.
Olivet Institutional Baptist Church, and its Pastor Jawanza Colvin, partnered with Google to bring IT Support training to people in the neighborhood of Fairfax, Ohio.
Jenny Doan turned a home-grown shop into the number one provider of precut quilting fabrics.
U.S. Army veteran Daniel worked with Grow with Google and the USO for support during his transition to civilian life and was one of the first people to test Google’s military code job search tool (MOS, AFSC, NEC, etc).
Rockford firefighter Luke Schneider and his wife Kate learned to use digital tools to make the Fire Dept. Coffee website their storefront. Since then, they’ve shipped coffee all over the world and donated a portion of every order to firefighter and military charities.
After learning how to make donuts online, Teresa and Arwyn left their waitressing jobs to open Glam Doll Donuts. As more donut shops started popping up around Minneapolis, the pair learned to use digital tools to bring new customers into their stores and grow their business.
With the help of Google's IT Support Professional Certificate, Daniel Anderson grew his love for technology into a career helping other people.
After turning their passion for powder days into a business, Luke and Casey learned to use digital tools to sell their handmade skis to customers all over the world.
Ted Barber began Prosperity Candle with the mission of employing refugee women who, through federal programs, have relocated from war zones to America. Over the years, the company learned to use digital tools to reach customers across the country and around the world, and help train women working with them from afar.
Rev. Georgiette Morgan-Thomas put off her plans for retirement and purchased the S & S Hat Company in Philadelphia, PA when it announced its closure in 2015. Together with her son, Robert, she started American Hats in 2016, and turned to the web to help reinvigorate the business.
Gina Locklear and her parents helped their hometown’s beloved sock business thrive in a new age.
Sara always had a passion for technology, but she didn’t always have access to it in the rural town where she grew up. She recently received a Developer Scholarship from Google, and is pursuing her dream of becoming a web developer.
Mason’s Creamery started as a mobile ice cream business. But through a lot of hard work and the help of digital tools, Jesse and Helen turned a 60-year-old boarded up ice cream shop into a neighbourhood hub.
After closing down her bakery, Shennice Cleckley learned how to grow her business by bringing her sweets online.
Rusty, Lynn, Justin and Payton created new opportunities in their hometown by teaching coal miners how to code.
Ken McNulty helps family farms and factories reach cheese lovers nationwide.
Brian Barber found a way to keep growing his family’s century-old retail business.
Richard and Devin started building motorcycles with the help of local Amish craftsmen. As their business has grown, they’ve found a way to sell their bikes across the country.
Kevin Jefferson goes from bartender to full time IT professional with Goodwill’s help.
Nisha Blackwell found a way to turn salvaged fabric into handcrafted bowties and a growing business.
Scott Baker stays nimble in the 21st century while maintaining his bakery’s 19th-century roots.