We recently posted part one of this two part blog series to share that the Greenville Chamber created a week-long experience for approximately 30 Phillis Wheatley youth to learn about entrepreneurship through activities like business tours, project assignment, motivational speakers, panel discussion with entrepreneurs and more. If you missed part one, be sure to check out that blog. Through this experience, the hope was to seed the idea that owning a business can be within reach. We also wanted to give the youth an opportunity to meet with several business owners and understand their journey. The week ended with a culmination event where students presented their projects in a room full of parents, business owners and community leaders. Individuals on the winning team received a $100 Visa Gift Card each. To our delight, the students were so great that the “Shark Tank” judges ended up identifying a second place winning team where each participant received $50 cash. The day ended with a celebratory reception to acknowledge the efforts of all involved.
As I reflect on the time spent with the youth I wish to share some key take-a-ways from the week:
- If challenged, supported and nurtured our youth will rise to the occasion. Considering the students only had one week to prepare for the project presentations, they demonstrated that they can rise to the occasion. One of the lessons we taught the kids this week was to give your best always. No one can ask more of a person than for him/her to give their best. Each person’s best may look different from the next person and that’s expected, but let your effort be your absolute best. Knowing that someone believed in them was a driving force that led to a successful culmination event.
- Youth sometimes need a little help getting enthusiastic about concepts that don’t normally come natural or appear as fun and valuable. Having to complete a project over the summer, I’m sure did not rank high in the teens’ minds. Each time I encountered the kids I would lead them in reciting our motto, I’m alive, I’m alert, I’m awake and I’m enthusiastic. It’s amazing at how this changed the entire mood of the group and put smiles on the teens faces. Encourage a young person in your life to recite this every time you feel they need a little extra motivation.
- Money motivates students the same way it motivates adults. One of our motivational speakers and successful business owner, James White, Jr. of JWE, LLC, used cash throughout his presentation to encourage the kids, and he certainly got their attention! All students who were present each day of the week-long experience was rewarded on the spot with a twenty dollar bill. A student who shared the most recent book she read and told what it was about, received a fifty dollar bill. Other students who engaged thoughtfully by answering questions throughout White’s presentation also received cash bonuses. Needless to say, by the end of the presentation, every student was seated upright, eager and listening intently for an opportunity to engage for a cash reward.
- The saying, “It takes a village” could not be further from the truth. Here’s my message to you…if it takes a village, as the proverb states, we must build it, maintain it and sustain it. Consider with me for a moment the circumstances under which this African proverb was created. During that time, everyone believed in the village and bought into the personal responsibility each person and entity in the village were to assume to make the village a community to be proud of and to trust your children to. If we are to be the village, how do we become that ideal village where we are consistently producing positive seeds and doing things that matter. The Greenville Chamber created this experience for the Phillis Wheatley youth because we recognize we have the ability to influence those young minds to consider the choices they are making, to understand entrepreneurship, hard work and perseverance. And, more importantly to understand that there are people in this community that believes in them and wish to see them succeed.
The Greenville Chamber was honored to participate in this important endeavor that helped shape the lives of young people in our community. We are grateful to our Investors and other stakeholders that joined with us in support of this event to serve as presenters, sponsors, and coaches.