Highlights of the HOPE Business In A Box Atlanta Pilot

By Natasha L. Foreman, HBIAB Consultant

HOPE Business In A Box (HBIAB) is gaining headway and getting a great response from youth, teachers, program directors, and community leaders around Atlanta, Georgia, as the HBIAB team launched its pilot study this summer. We have had the honor and privilege of meeting and working with young aspiring entrepreneurs who are entering grades 4 through 12 this upcoming school year. Since the end of June our team has tested and tried different methods, lessons, and activities with students at three different summer programs—Project Grad (this summer their program was held at Oglethorpe University), the Martin Luther King Jr. Recreation Center, and the Andrew & Walter Young YMCA. Each program underwent three to four day sessions with our HBIAB team and volunteers.

After participating in our award-winning Banking on Our Future (BOOF) program where youth learned about financial dignity and the basics of banking, checking, savings, credit, and investments—students were introduced for the first time to our HBIAB Youth Entrepreneurship Training sessions. The entrepreneurship training helps students to look at the role, responsibilities, and risks of the entrepreneur—who has an idea and builds it into a monetized reality—-and the intrapreneur, who works for the company and is passionate about helping the organization fulfill their mission and vision.

It does not take long when sitting in one of our sessions to see the light bulbs turn on for those natural entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs who want to succeed, and share the various ways that they can turn ideas into profit-making enterprises. 

HBIAB gives youth the opportunity to learn about business, entrepreneurship, developing and running with an idea, researching how best to make their idea work, and then pitching their idea first in front of their peers and classroom judges—and then, for those finalists who go on to the next round—they compete against other teams from their school or program for an opportunity to earn a HBIAB Youth Entrepreneurship Grant, Business Startup Kit, and a Business Role Model. This second round is a “Big Pitch” competition in front of judges and an audience of peers, family members, community members and leaders, and business professionals.

Here is where the magic happens as we witnessed aspiring entrepreneurs work individually and in teams with a HBIAB Volunteer to make their business ideas uniquely theirs, and then attempt to prove why their idea is viable, well thought out, has potential to make money, and can be started for $500 or less.

We have had students design replicas of their products and provide outlines of their service features; students who were first sole proprietorships and then later saw an opportunity to leverage their skills by forming partnerships; and we have seen the smiles and tears of students and family members who are so thrilled at the idea of potentially seeing their business ideas become a reality. 

But the magic is not just with those aspiring business owners. Since June we have also connected with youth who learned the role of being an intrapreneur and not just a “regular employee” within an organization. They learned about the hard work, dedication, and willingness to see and buy-in to the organization’s mission and vision, and make it their own. HBIAB exposed youth to the reality of one day earning a position as an employee or intern with an organization.

Some students never knew or understood what an internship was until they went through HBIAB. They were able to meet HOPE Interns Lena Alston, Kendell McGee and Joshua Tillman, and speak with them about their time at HOPE, and their roles and responsibilities. These youth had someone that they could identify with, as the Interns are close in age to many of the students we worked with. So, maybe owning their own business one day was not a motivating factor for some youth, but the ability to intern or earn a position at an organization—even for the summer, was thrilling for them. Seeing this ‘spark’ in the students was thrilling for us!

 Throughout this pilot program our team has worked tirelessly and passionately to take the feedback that we receive from students, parents, K-12 teachers, program directors, entrepreneurs, and volunteer instructors and judges, and apply it to our HBIAB curriculum and the entrepreneurship training program as a whole. Early on students freely shared their thoughts, opinions, and suggestions about HBIAB, the curriculum, the effectiveness of the volunteer-instructors, and about the classroom and “Big Pitch” competitions that they participated in with our team.

The students clearly articulated which activities or lessons that they believed needed refinement, further instruction, or needed to be eliminated altogether. They helped us see through their lens how best to construct HBIAB to serve the needs of youth nationwide.

For those individuals who are interested in reading about specifics surrounding each classroom experience, the Pitch Event winners from each program, and some of the feedback that we received from students, their teachers, pitch judges, and HBIAB Volunteer-instructors, please review our other posts on our HBIAB website. We have witnessed positive developments over the past several weeks, and we are excited about our next opportunity to share HBIAB with youth and the community.


HOPE Business In A Box…It starts with an idea!

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