Other than an appearance from Mark Cuban, we’re not sure this program could have gone much better! The P.L.A.Y. after-school participants at Preston Park put their entrepreneurial skills to the test in a Shark Tank competition where they came up with their own ideas for a business. Over the span of two weeks, these young folks underwent Junior Achievement and Entrepreneurial Leadership Institute education, heard youth entrepreneurial stories from around the country, met with local business owners, and finally came up with their own business plans to pitch to a panel of judges for a chance to win cash prizes.
Philip Clement, CEO of The Foundry, a local business contracted to work with PLAY Roanoke’s after-school program, was inspired to do this competition after seeing his young son’s business dreams come to fruition over the past year. “The Foundry is focused on unlocking human potential. Teaching entrepreneurship to our young people is a great way to do that,” Clement said. Providing young citizens with business skills offers a slew of benefits for them as well as the community as a whole. These participants better understand how a city functions and the benefits businesses bring to a community. Plus, they’ve developed creativity, resilience, innovation, and collaboration through this process. One of the students approached the staff during the program and said, “Thank you for teaching us about money so that we will know how to use it when we are older.” Clement said the kids especially enjoyed talking with local business owners and asking questions.
After two weeks of work, the students were ready with their pitches. The winning team pitched “Tie-Dye Queens,” and three young people walked away with $150. Second, third, and fourth place teams took home $100, $75, and $50 respectively.
This is the first time Clement has done a program like this and wasn’t sure how the kids the would receive it, but he was pleased with how well it went. “I love seeing students discover that they get to choose their future. There are few things greater than unlocking the creativity, innovation, and possibility in a young person.”