Sponsor Spotlight: Amica Companies Foundation Supports Colorado’s Youngest Entrepreneurs

Janet Redwine YouthBiz Leave a Comment

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Matt Ward, an Amica volunteer, listens to a business pitch from YouthBiz participant Miriam Rojo, creator of Joyful Bubbles.

YouthBiz entrepreneurship programming at Young Americans Center has experienced exponential growth over the last year.  In 2017, 1,701 young people participated in YouthBiz programming or events, compared to just 127 participants in 2015.  Partnerships with corporations and foundations have powered this growth, including proud sponsor Amica Companies Foundation which believes strongly in our mission to advance the social and economic prosperity of youth through the study and practice of entrepreneurship.

The largest area of expansion for YouthBiz has been in the YouthBiz StartUp program, which provides a foundation for 5th-9th graders to think like, act like and BE entrepreneurs.  In a ten-session curriculum, students:

  • Learn about themselves and others
  • Compose their own power team
  • Develop a business idea
  • Create a prototype
  • Pitch their business to a panel of judges

In addition to monetary support, Amica provides volunteers that help guide aspiring entrepreneurs.  Matt Ward, who heads up Sales and Client Services at Amica, has served as a volunteer numerous times.  His favorite experience was when he served first on a focus group for a business team whose product was a greeting card with a pop-out bouquet of flowers and later judged their final pitch.  “I got to see how the team played to the members’ strengths in design and production, delegating one to cut and others to assemble their original cards,” said Matt.  He added, “I ended up buying one for my wife for Valentine’s Day!”

Matt’s biggest take-away from the experience is that youth from diverse backgrounds truly benefit from a program like YouthBiz.  A recent NYU study demonstrated that entrepreneurship education helps students develop skills that will benefit them in both life and in school, noting improvements in communication and problem-solving, two critical 21st century skills.  Witnessing this skill development for himself, Matt is proud of Amica’s lead role in growing YouthBiz in more low-income communities.  Without it “a lot of potential will be left on the table.”

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