On January 24, 2019, the Columbia Association Board of Directors accepted the Millennials Work Group Report: Exploring Ways to Better Serve Millennials. As part of CA’s ongoing efforts to improve programs, facilities, and services for everyone, CA convened a Millennials Work Group tasked with identifying opportunities to engage with community members in this age group and highlight ways to attract them to stay in Columbia, engage in civic life and to assess how CA can engage and serve them better.
The result of this year-long study and public engagement effort, the Work Group’s final report identifies current issues, needs, and future potential opportunities for improving the lives of Columbia’s millennial population. The report includes recommendations for both CA and others on how this age group could be better served.
What is the Millennials Work Group?
The Millennials Work Group is made up of community member volunteers between the ages of 17 and 35 who live, work, study, or come to play in Columbia. Between February and December, 2018, the Work Group met monthly to discuss how CA and Columbia can be improved to better satisfy the needs and interests of Columbia’s Millennials population. In addition to their monthly topic exploration and small group discussion sessions, the workgroup developed a survey, which collected more than 800 responses, to help them engage broadly with Columbia’s millennials. Based on their efforts and community feedback, the Work Group developed recommendations for what Millennials want from Columbia and CA.
For additional information, please email Jessica Bellah at Jessica.Bellah@ColumbiaAssociation.org.
The first meeting of the Millennials Work Group was held in February 2018. The group is made up of 15 Columbia community members representing those aged 17-35 who live, work or go to school in Columbia. CA President/CEO Milton Matthews welcomed the workgroup members and led off in a round of introductions. Millennials members of the workgroup shared their experience living or working in Columbia, their reasons for wanting to serve, and what measures of success they hoped the project would achieve.
The group discussed and agreed on a charter that outlines the project’s goals and ultimate outcomes, lays out the scope and timeline of the project, and provides the overall charge for the group. CA’s staff liaisons provided some general information on demographic trends occurring in Columbia, and members of the group brainstormed on what additional information may be helpful to them in facilitating discussion in future meetings.
At their next meeting, the group agreed they would select a chair and vice Chair to organize and run future meetings.
The Millennials workgroup held their second monthly meeting of the Millennials engagement project. The meeting started with a presentation by CA’s Assistant Director of Sport and Fitness who provided an overview of CA’s Sport and Fitness Department’s facilities, programs, and services. The presentation brought workgroup members up to speed on CA’s major recent or planned initiatives to improve facilities through major renovations to club facilities, pools and swim center, golf course clubhouses, new club spaces to support new intensity training classes and functional classes and equipment, and transformation of some tennis facilities to pickleball courts in response to member demand and usage.
The workgroup continued to discuss and review CA’s current operations and look at which programs, classes, and facilities are most popular with the Millennials demographic. The workgroup set goals for collecting more information to discuss at the next meeting and developed a public engagement strategy to assist them in further exploring this topic.
The Millennials workgroup held their third monthly meeting of the Millennials Engagement project. The meeting started with a detailed discussion on how CA can utilize usage patterns at its clubs and facilities to see what classes and facilities are popular. The group reviewed which gyms and programs are most popular with Millennials.
The second half of the meeting, the workgroup members developed survey and discussion questions to use in their public engagement initiatives.
The Millennials workgroup held their fourth monthly meeting of the Millennials Engagement project. The meeting started with a presentation by the marketing team of the Howard Hughes Corporation and provided an overview of major initiatives being undertaken by the Howard Hughes Corporation in Downtown Columbia and Merriweather District. A great question and answer session focused on how the private market is responding to appeal to new market demands in residential or commercial properties.
The group finalized the questions they wanted to ask in their upcoming public engagement initiatives.
The Millennials workgroup held their fifth monthly meeting of the Millennials Engagement project. As part of the Millennials Work Group’s project, the workgroup developed a series of questions for their public engagement strategy to be explored in a conversational setting. Invitations to participate in a small group discussion session were sent to 40 individuals, ages 17 -35, who had previously expressed interest in participating in this project. Three of these small group discussions were held and the workgroup met later in the month to discuss what new insights and recommendations could be developed based on the feedback received during the sessions.
The workgroup finalized their public survey questions.
The Millennials work group held their sixth monthly meeting of the Millennials Engagement project. The work group reviewed the early responses to the survey and began discussing these results as well as the draft recommendations they inspired. The Survey would continue to collect responses over the next week. In the meantime, the group started to plan for a public event in the fall in order to share what they have learned with the public and get feedback on their draft recommendations.
The Millennials work group held their seventh monthly meeting of the Millennials Engagement project. At the close of the survey, a total of 820 responses were received providing invaluable information on what services and changes Millennials are looking for in CA programming and facilities as well as the wider Columbia environs. The work group did a deep dive into these responses and continued to draft recommendations. The also began outlining their final report and identified the major themes.