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On March 10, 2020, Grant Beacon Middle School held its YouthBiz StartUp pitch competition. These competitions provide hands-on, real-life opportunities for Denver’s youth to put what they’ve learned in YouthBiz into practice. The pitch judges are community business partners who offer real, constructive advice to the students, giving them an extra sense of importance in their presentations and pride if they win. This year’s Grant Beacon pitch competition had some great contenders and equally as great business partner judges, including Sarah Hilsendager from Amica Mutual Insurance.
Amica Companies Foundation has been a dedicated supporter of the YouthBiz program for the past five years, enabling the program to continually see some phenomenal growth (YouthBiz grew 60% in 2019 vs 2018!). Aligned with their mission to harness the power of enduring relationships to help individuals, families, and communities become economically independent and strong, their funding of YouthBiz not only allows their employees to build relationships within the community, but they also allow the students of YouthBiz to practice networking and relationship building of their own. “It’s so rewarding to see students flourish,” Sarah told Young Americans Center staff, “to see them think big picture ideas and gain experience engaging a crowd and presenting.”
Big picture ideas are definitely correct! One team that really impressed judges was a trio of 6th graders named Laura, Lizzy, and Savannah. The three girls pitched their business idea called Dogs and Paws, a dog toy ball launcher that includes a water cooling aspect. The motivation for their product came from personal experience with their own dogs. The judges made remarks on the girls’ passion and well-executed business plan. When discussing what they learned from the program, the girls listed researching, learning from others, and how to manage money—some key life and entrepreneurial skills.
Thanks to funders like the Amica Companies Foundation, YouthBiz was able to serve 2,345 students in 2019, giving Denver’s youth hands-on, real-world experiences in entrepreneurship. The growth, reach, and exceptional quality of YouthBiz could not be attained without the support from funders. Thank you, Amica Companies Foundation, for your continued contribution of time, talent, and treasure towards YouthBiz and its participants!