In May, the Genesee Intermediate School District held its 2nd Annual Countywide Pitch Competition virtually. The competition challenged students throughout Genesee County to submit a video pitch of a product business, service business, social enterprise or technology business.
TK Thomas, a YouthQuest student at Southwestern Classical Academy, was one of the students that submitted a video pitch. His business idea was 100% Truth, a phone app to help students battling depression.
Through YouthQuest, Thomas has participated in the Youth Entrepreneurship Club, an initiative in Genesee County designed to spark interest and help boost entrepreneurial mindsets among students. This builds upon his experiences in the YQ Biz program, where students learn how to create business plans, present in front of a panel of judges and – for those who advance – create and sell their products during the culminating YQ Biz fair.
“This was different from previous pitches because it was virtual,” says Thomas. “I recorded it multiple times and kept editing it to make sure it was the best it could be.”
Out of the 33 video pitches submitted, 12 district winners received $200. Five students who scored the highest out of the 12 were named regional winners and were awarded an additional $300. Five of the students named district winners were part of the Youth Entrepreneur Club at YouthQuest and two out of the five were named regional winners.
Thomas—one of the regional winners—gives credit to YouthQuest Learning Guide Jimantra Grant, who advises the Youth Entrepreneur Club at YouthQuest.
“Mrs. Grant has been very encouraging and gave me a lot of confidence in my pitch,” says Thomas. “She always tells me when a door shuts, just go through a window.”
During the club, students learned about financial literacy, how to write a pitch and communication. They also practiced their critical thinking skills through thoughtful discussion, problem-solving and challenging ideas.
“We are elated to see the talent that came from our YouthQuest students,” says Nefertari Jones, Program Director of YouthQuest. “With help from Mrs. Grant, students prepared excellent pitches and were recognized accordingly.”
Alongside Thomas, Latisha Jones, a student at Mott Middle College, was also named district winner for her hair and skincare company, Mo’Shea.
The other student named regional winners include:
- Anjola Adigun (International Academy of Flint) – G Styles Head Gear, a company creating designer headscarves, bonnets, durags and ski masks
- Aaron Hall (Mott Middle College) – Cultural Diffusion, an apparel company representing different cultures
- Sakiyah Hale (International Academy of Flint) – Heavenly Hologram, a company that provides holograms of loved ones who have passed away.
GISD was awarded a grant from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation to set up Youth Entrepreneurship Clubs at high schools across the county, train participating club advisors and support the countywide pitch competition. Due to the circumstances surrounding COVID-19, this year’s competition was opened up to all high school students to help keep students engaged.
To learn more about the GISD Youth Entrepreneur Pitch Competition, visit geneseeisd.org.