The Future Founders Foundation, a non-profit organization that inspires low-income youth in Chicago to explore new career opportunities, hosted their 8th Annual Future Founders Citywide Business Plan Competition on May 8 at the Hard Rock Café. During the event, ten student finalists showcased their business concepts at a high- energy “American Idol” meets entrepreneurship style competition, competing for scholarships and prizes.
Paige Robinson, a freshman at George Washington High School was crowned winner of the Product Category, Jonathon Grayer, a senior at Chicago International Charter School (CICS) Ralph Ellison was crowned winner of the Services Category and Adam Kint, a sophomore at Chicago Tech Academy was crowned winner of the Mobile Apps Category.
“It’s wonderful to see the entrepreneurial and business communities join forces to mentor these bright young students and empower them to become entrepreneurs. These teens are vital contributors to our economy and represent our future leaders,” said Scott Issen, CEO of the Future Founders Foundation.
“Their intellect, passion and innovative ideas are inspiring and will have a profound effect on Chicago’s entrepreneurial community.”
The competition was the culmination of a year-long program during which 315 students from six high schools on Chicago’s South and West Sides received insight on creating and running businesses of their own from 150 of the city’s top entrepreneurs and business leaders.
“This event demonstrates that excitement and learning opportunities are created when entrepreneurs, and the broader professional community, share their expertise with students, and expose them to the power of pursuing their passion,” said Brad Keywell, Chairman of the Future Founders Foundation and Co-Founder of Lightbank. “Students demonstrate exceptional drive and creativity when they are exposed to the tools of entrepreneurship, and when they see that someone cares. Many students don’t know what the future holds for them and it makes a huge impact if you can show them the value of education, the difference they can make in society, and the power they have to create entrepreneurial opportunities for themselves.”
Student finalists presented their business concepts in front of more than 350 guests consisting of students, family members, entrepreneurs, and business leaders at the Hard Rock Café Chicago. A winner was named for each of three categories focused on Products, Services and Mobile Apps. Each winner received a college scholarship, laptop, an annual Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization (CEO) membership, and a ticket to the 2013 National CEO Conference.
2013 Future Founders Citywide Business Plan WINNERS:
Winner: Paige Robinson – Freshman at George Washington High School
Founder: Litswitchskins, a company that provides fun and creative customized light switch panels for homes and offices.
Winner: Jonathon Grayer – Senior at Chicago International Charter School (CICS) Ralph Ellison
Founder: HonorRolling.com, a website that helps students and teachers to manage homework and classroom assignments more effectively.
Mobile Apps Category:
Winner: Adam Kint – Sophomore at Chicago Tech Academy
Founder: Review IT, a mobile app that allows customers to compare product reviews and earn loyalty rewards for writing reviews of recent purchases.
Winner: Destiny Colon & Angel Gomez – Juniors at EPIC Academy
Founder: DNA Puppets, a puppet performance troupe that is currently in business.
Future Founders gives motivated high school students in Chicago’s underserved neighborhoods the opportunity to learn about and experience entrepreneurship from the city’s top entrepreneurs. The goal of Future Founders is to expose students to entrepreneurial careers, have them create business plans and/or assist them through classroom programming developed by the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE).
The Future Founders program consists of mentoring and specialized activities which give students the opportunity to learn the public speaking, presentation, technology, and financial literacy skills needed to create and grow a business. More than 1,200 students have participated in this program since 2005.
Future Founders is generously supported by the Motorola Solutions Foundation, Accenture, CME Group Foundation, Bank of America, Baxter International Inc.: Science@Work, The Coleman Foundation, Crain’s Chicago Business, Ford Motor Company Fund, GEM Realty Capital, Groupon Grassroots, The John E. & Jeanne T. Hughes Foundation, Keywell Family Foundation, Motorola Mobility Foundation and Smart Bet Charity.
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