Orange County Entrepreneur Program

August 28 2018

Building Future Business Owners

While StandUp For Kids is always busy at work doing street outreach, mentoring, and helping to secure housing and employment for our youth, one really impactful and thriving program you may not be aware of is our entrepreneur program.

As part of our vision to end the cycle of youth homelessness, preparing at-risk youth for successful careers and self-sufficiency after high school and college is a huge part of what we do.

For about 14 weeks, kids in the program come after school and spend 90 minutes learning about how to start their own business. They get a chance to speak with successful business owners, learn the basics involved in becoming an entrepreneur, and ultimately dream up their own business to pitch for funding at the end of the class. The number of kids enrolled in the program varies each session, the last class consisted of 30 entrepreneurs in training.

In the first year of the program, one student – who had already started a business – won $2,500 and was able to expand. Last year, one of the students dreamed of having his own podcast. He visited a radio station and shared his podcast idea, and the station offered him a summer job to get him started in his dream career.

The popularity of the class has been growing with each session. As program leader, Dr. Letitia Wright imagines how the future sessions could evolve to have an even bigger effect. “I would love to have pitching sessions where they could win money for their business and we could get the businesses launched,” Wright said. “And we could mentor each business for a year or two.”

There are about two sessions offered each year. The most recent one started August 20th and will run until the end of the year.

“My favorite thing to teach them is that their super power is that they are young and no one will see them coming. No one will expect them to be as smart as they are. No one will expect them to be as quick as they are and they can use that to their advantage in every area of their life, including business,” Wright said. “Each time the kids have pitched, at least one child has used that in their pitch as part of their strengths. At least one child, each time has said, I'm young and they won't see me coming. It's amazing that they take it in. First time a child said that it brought tears to my eyes. Sometimes you feel like they are not paying any attention to you.”

If you’d like to support our entrepreneur program or participate in future sessions, we’d love to have you! For business owners with a physical address, you could help by hosting one of our office tours. We could also use financial support to help with incentives to keep kids interested until the end of the program. Any gift to StandUp For Kids - Orange County that is designated for the Entrepreneur Program will bring a child closer to their dream of breaking through barriers to create their own successful business. Contact us now to learn more or click here to donate to the program. 

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