On Saturday, May 1, 2021, 35 teams of high school students and 12 teams of middle school students will pitch their business idea to compete for cash prizes for a winning business plan during the 4th Annual Youth Entrepreneurial Challenge, presented by Union Bank. In the first, semi-finalist round, modeled similarly to that of the television show Shark Tank, students have 5 minutes to pitch their idea to a panel of judges. The winners from the semi-final round will then compete in the finals, which will award 1st, 2nd and 3rd place cash prizes of $2,500.00, $1,000.00 and $500.00 respectively for both the high school and middle school categories. The event will go live on Zoom at 11am and is open to the public. KJLH Radio morning show host Adai Lamar will serve as the event’s MC and rapper/entrepreneur Percy “Master P” Miller will provide the keynote address.
“We created this innovative program to change the narrative and trajectory of lower-to-moderate income level students that heretofore did not exist,” says Mario Martinez, Assistant Vice President, Voice and Visual Identity/Enterprise Marketing at Union Bank. “The program re-engages youth in school, promotes academic improvement, builds personal character and social skills, encourages team building, promotes community economic development, teaches young people advanced entrepreneur skills, and fosters cultural appreciation, acceptance, and tolerance, while helping young people create and build their businesses. Regardless of the extent to which young people desire to ultimately grow their business, the Youth Entrepreneurial Challenge competition will equip them with knowledge, skills and experience that will serve them well for the entirety of their lives.”
Students work with coaches for up to 16 weeks to help shape their business ideas and are taught principles of: entrepreneurship, including financing, marketing, market development, merchandizing, value proposition, bookkeeping and inventory—in short, everything that an entrepreneur would need to examine before launching a business.
“We are excited to be a partner in this program, says Joseph “Joe” Rouzan, Executive Director of the Vermont Slauson Economic Development Corporation (VSEDC). “Not only is it part of our charter to help business thrive in our community, but there is also a great need to educate our youth on the value of entrepreneurship as it teaches them critical thinking, financial acumen, problem solving and other critical skills that prepares them for their future.”
The Youth Entrepreneurial Challenge includes students from August Hawkins High School, Crenshaw High School and Chaffey High School, as well as programs helmed by 100 Black Men of Los Angeles, Los Angeles Conservation Corps, YWCA of Greater Los Angeles, and the Los Angeles Urban League. Partners for the program include Brotherhood Crusade, SBA, NFTE, YWCA of Greater Los Angeles, OmniWorks, LA Conservation Corps, A Place Called Home, and New Community Investments, apart from the VSEDC.
For more information on the Youth Entrepreneurial Challenge, please visit https://vsedc.org/. To secure free tickets to the event on May 1st, please visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/2021-youth-entrepreneurial-challenge-tickets-150261449039.