In several days, Barack Obama will be sworn in as the 44th president of the United States.
Paraphrasing a decades-old quote from the late New York Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, our
nation is “young again.”
Here’s an idea for how you can leverage the power of youth to accelerate the economy in 2009
and beyond. The idea is called Student Web Corps. I created it thanks to squirrels in the
attic of my Cape Cod, Mass., home.
The squirrels drove me to the exterminator section of the local Yellow Pages. Of the scores
of firms listed, only three had e-commerce sites, and I eventually did business with one of
It got me thinking: How many small businesses in America have websites? Here are the
According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, 90 percent of the nearly six million
businesses in America had fewer than 20 employees in 2005 (the last year for which data is
available). Netflare, A U.K.-based Internet design and marketing company, finds that 92
percent of company websites in Britain lack an e-commerce component, and only 23 percent
have updated their site since its launch. There’s no reason to think U.S. companies are much
different—that is, behind the times online.
Now consider our nation’s Web-proficient youth. Student Web Corps is a new program run by
Tech Corps, which is the organization I founded to recruit IT professionals to donate their
time to schools. Student Web Corps aims to recruit thousands of teenagers from middle and
high schools across the country and match them with owners of very small businesses in their
local communities. Collaborative teams of tech-smart—and artistically
talented—youth will aim to build initial websites for firms that have none. And
refresh the aging ones.
I have talked about the Student Web Corps program in speeches across the nation to a sea of
nodding heads. Now, it’s your turn to vote.
If you like the idea, send me a note expressing your thoughts and interest in getting a
chapter launched in your hometown. Let the CIO community jump start the next generation of
IT leaders by getting them involved in Student Web Corps.
I look forward to hearing from thousands of you. Write today.