Wednesday, September 25, 2013
Some kids don’t see past their street corner when examining their options for the future. The LAUNCH High School Entrepreneurial Program is seeking to change the perspective of juniors and seniors at Tyner, Howard and Brainerd High schools.
The purpose of the High School Entrepreneurial Program is to teach kids fundamental business skills over the course of a semester in order to prepare them to launch their own successful small business.
“The goal is to open up the kids’ minds to other options the kids could have if they graduated from high school or college,” said Gina Soltau, program director. “We’re teaching them that they have the ability to make an impact and teaching them how to start a project, work through the project and have a positive outcome in the process.”
Students are taught to research, to sit and think about their project and to encourage each other, she said.
“Hopefully, the businesses they want to develop are the sort of projects that help the community,” said Soltau. “It’s empowering to the whole community for these kids to learn these skills and then apply them in their own area.”
At the end of the semester, students pitch their business plans at a regional competition held at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. The winning team is awarded $10,000 worth of funding and services to help them put their business plan into action.
The winners of last year’s contest were Tyner Academy juniors (current seniors) Colby McCurty and Deosha King, who had the idea to create a vending machine that dispenses school supplies to students. The box should be installed at Tyner soon.
This year’s winner will be selected by a panel of judges Dec. 8 based on the student’s presentation and the feasibility of the idea, among other factors, said Soltau.
“I think [the program] brings something to the students they haven’t experienced before,” Soltau said. “It helps job performance, whether they start a business or work for somebody else.”