We stopped by the iconic Homer Atrium last week to join Build DC for “Taste of Entrepreneurship,” an innovative event celebrating entrepreneurs. That, in itself, is nothing new to DC, a city full of start-ups, big dreamers, and go-getters. One thing made this event a bit different, though–the entrepreneurs of the evening were all under 18 years of age.
BUILD’s mission is to use entrepreneurship to excite and propel disengaged, low-income students through high school to college success. Serving disadvantaged youth has been at the heart of BUILD’s efforts since our organization was founded by attorney Suzanne McKechnie Klahr in 1999.
In 2002, BUILD became a key player in school districts when it went into local high schools and began offering its entrepreneurship curriculum as a daily, credited class. By working closely with the partner schools and their teachers, BUILD began supplementing students’ traditional education with the real-life experience of running their own small businesses. This unique experiential learning program increased students’ self-confidence, taught them the value of critical academic skills, and motivated them to graduate and pursue post-secondary education. Teachers have seen the transformative effect of BUILD on their students in the classroom, and the schools experience decreased drop-out rates and see more students go on to college.
Guests of Taste of Entrepreneurship enjoyed treats from students of the program, who sold everything from hoodies to picture frames to milkshakes. The adult crowd also got to enjoy some adult beverages–locally-made DC Brau and Green Hat Gin were the libations of the evening.
Keynoting the event were some DC Tech heavy-hitters, a real treat given the event’s timing smack in the middle of SXSW over in Austin. Doug Rand, Sr. Policy Advisor to the White House Office of Science and Technology, Evan Burfield, Founder of 1776 and Chairman of Startup DC, both gave encouraging remarks to youth about compassion and the importance of an educational foundation. Michael Chasen, co-founder and former CEO of Blackboard, and Adam Zuckerberg of Fosterly were also standout guests of the evening.
Coming up next for this unsinkable, on-the-move organization is its 5th Annual Business Plan Competition, an opportunity for youth business teams from Eastern, Roosevelt and Maya Angelou charter schools to compete against each other at the George Washington School of Business. The Business Plan Competition will be held May 11th. To volunteer to help or serve as a judge for this event, contact Alex at firstname.lastname@example.org.