High School Entrepreneurs WOW Celebrity Judges With Their Small Businesses

BUILD is a non-profit organization that uses entrepreneurship to ignite the potential of the youth who are most at-risk of dropping out of high school. More specifically, BUILD supplements traditional education with the skills to develop and run their own small businesses.

BUILD was established in 1999 in the San Francisco Bay Area and has expanded nationally to Boston, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, and New York City. Since its founding, BUILD has incubated over 750 youth businesses and partnered with over 30 schools across the country. In the fall of 2016, the program launched in 10 high schools in NYC’s most economically depressed neighborhoods.

The program has great success in motivating vulnerable students from under-resourced communities to stay in high school, develop critical life skills, and achieve college and career success. Historically, 96% of students who have completed the four-year BUILD program graduate from high school on time and 98% of those are accepted to at least one postsecondary opportunity. To put the program’s success in perspective, the graduation rates of the high schools that BUILD partners with can typically be as low as 50%.

The BUILD NYC’s Business Plan Competition serves as the culminating capstone event that showcases and celebrates the students’ work. 80 teams showcase the businesses they’ve worked on all school year long with the hope of being one of the five teams to present their final business proposals in front of a panel of celebrity judges. This year’s judges include A-Listers such as Orange is the New Black star and SAG award winner, Alysia Reiner, former NBA All-Star John Starks, music producer/engineer and singer-songwriter Ebonie Smith, former operations leader at Target and current operations leader at Starbucks Ron Shuler, and senior executive at The Shark Group (owned by Shark Tank’s Daymond John), Champ Nichols.

The winners of the competition may receive cash prizes, but everyone wins the confidence to accomplish anything they put their minds to.

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