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Minding Our Business: Celebrating Middle School Entrepreneurship!

By: ellis j. still

Young people are the cornerstone of our future. Minding Our Business (MOB) is an outstanding example of actively reinforcing that sentiment by partnering with middle schools to provide young people with real life experience of what it is like to be an entrepreneur.

For the past 15 years, Minding Our Business (MOB) has been challenging middle school students not only come up with business ideas, but to create a balanced budget in terms of what it would take to run a business, apply for and present their business to judges, and upon approval of the budget, get funding to launch & run their business on Market Fair Day (outcome presentations are attached at the end of this blog post).

I had the opportunity to volunteer as a panel judge for the kids’ funding presentations. They were teams of kids (each team represented a business) who as individuals had separate roles such as a president/ceo that was responsible for the vision & mission of their company, and various vice presidents that included marketing, finance, operations, project management, and sales. They presented to the judges their idea, target market, how the business would run, budget and proposed funding requirements. Judges then had to assess the presentation and decide if the requested funding was warranted.

The presentations were quite awesome, not what you would expect from middle school students. The kids were well versed in their subject areas and it was evident that they rehearsed their presentations at length.

SUCCESS STORIES

In addition to the program mentioned above, MOB also has advanced and summer programs for those who wish to continue the entrepreneurship track beyond the initial program. Here are some success stories as a result of MOB’s programs:

  • Trevon Molder (MOB 2006), age 17 and CEO of Tick’s Toys started his toy business six years ago and still runs it successfully. Trevon is a senior student at the Trenton Central High School. He plans to go to college and study biochemistry.
  • Pula Jusu (MOB 2003) Took over father’s B & B Home Movie Productions. She is planning to start a business with her two other sisters selling clothing. Pula is very close to finish a master degree in business.
  • Tanaya Butler (MOB 1997) Helped her dad create a cleaning business from the ground up using all the know how acquired through MOB. Swans Brothers Cleaning is a successful business. Tanaya is planning now to open a beauty salon. She’s studying to become a register nurse.
  • Qaysean Williams (MOB 2003), who is a fashion designer and CEO of Mannequin, a fashion design business that recently displayed its garments at the Sun National Bank Arena Fashion Show.
  • Shawntae DeVlugt (MOB 1998) She owns a cake business.
  • Tamar Levy (MOB 1998) He is the owner of a small accounting firm.
  • Abberin Hoagland (MOB 2003) Non-profit summer arts program. “Both Hands” and she is teaching film.
  • Bryan Lane (MOB 2001) He owns a barbershop.
  • Kimyatta Perry – She owns a Hair Salon
  • Jonathan Knight (MOB 1998) He owns an E-Commerce business involving drop shipping.
  • Albert Matlock (MOB 2004) Mentoring Program called the Elite Club, He also sells clothes to fund it. He wanted to help inner-city youth and to fuel his passion for clothing.
  • Eric Hallet (MOB 2001) He owns Outdoor Flicks – A business renting out inflatable 30 ft. movie screens.
  • Jamar L. Robinson (MOB 2001) He owns two businesses. One is called Project DBR (Dreams Becoming Reality) an internet blog for promoting and discussing all types of artists and musicians. The other business is called “Life Crooks” selling clothes and graphic Ts.
  • Kyle Barrett (MOB 1999) He owns a Take-out out of home restaurant.

MOB students talk about their experiences… (video will open in new window)

MOB is a unique program that allows kids to learn and make long term career choices through real life activity. The program’s track record of success is a role model for others looking to make a difference in urban communities.

Below are attached PDF outcome presentations for MOB’s programs, which can also be downloaded directly from MOB’s website (right-click to open in a new tab or window):

MOB’s success is opening doors for it to expand well beyond the confines of Rider University and Trenton, NJ, and into being an independent 501(c)(3). If you would like to take part in this expansion and meet its founders and some of the success stories in person, MOB is hosting its annual “Bridge to the Future” fundraiser in Lawrence, NJ. If you cannot make it in person, or of you  wish to contact them, Dr. Hernandez can be reached at 609-895-5509 or email: hernandez@rider.edu

Question: How would your life be different if you had been exposed to entrepreneurship at an early age?

© 2012, Ellis J. Still. All rights reserved

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

__________________________________________

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you like what you read and you are not yet a Subscriber to my blog, why not subscribe now? All posts are original, there is no fixed schedule, so you would not have to check my blog regularly, and you will be receiving an authentic review of books, organizations and life experiences as a husband and entrepreneur. If you change your mind, it is easy to unsubscribe. Once you sign up, visit your email inbox to verify your email address. Check your spam folder if you don’t receive any verification
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Tied To Greatness: Creating A Movement of Inspired Young Men

by ellis j. still

On February 20, 2010, I participated in what is part of a movement for young inner city men around the world called Tied To Greatness. Tied To greatness is the brainchild of custom clothier Alex Ellis, and is an outreach program that travels across the country and abroad, reaching inner city young men through the power of exciting entertainment, powerful dialogue, and support from celebrity guests and community leaders. Mr. Ellis has been featured in Black Enterprise Magazine, has been a guest on the Steve Harvey Morning show as well as participated in Mr. Harvey’s summer youth programs, and Mr. Ellis has participated in the Disney Dreamers Academy in Disney, Florida among other things.

The program centered on inviting 300 young men and 300 adult men to a one-day mentoring experience where the adults show the young men how to tie a tie. Even through many of the young men have never owned, let alone tied a tie, the tie was not the purpose. The goal was to give young people an understanding that who they are on the inside should reflect in how they dress on the outside, and vice versa. There is nothing more frustrating than being profiled in a department store as a potential thief and you know that you are not a thief. But if you are dressed like and carry yourself as if you are a thief, you are more likely to be profiled. The reality is that people perceive and treat you based on your exterior self. Another reality is that the way you dress on the outside is also how you perceive yourself on the inside.

There also were periods of male bonding and camaraderie. Well known celebrities spoke and performed such as poet Othell Miller, EXTRA NY Correspondent AJ Calloway, branch manager of PNC Bank Wes Ifan, The Honorable Judge Dennis Nieves from the superior Court of New Jersey, a performance by tap dance performer, choreographer, and director Jason Samuels Smith from the Broadway play Bringing The Noise, Bringing the Funk, and a special presentation of Black Angels Over Tuskegee by Lamman Rucker & the Black Gents of Hollywood.

The mixture of speakers and performances captivated the audience, not because they were celebrities, but because they all had stories to tell. They all as black men had seen and lived through life’s adversities and was able to not only persevere, but to do exceedingly well by utilizing the gifts that God has given them. This program was important because it wasn’t just an assemblage of speakers talking at people, but a mentoring opportunity that engaged the young people’s minds.

The climax of the day was when the adult men were paired with young men, and were given a tie. Extra time was allowed for the two to get to know one another… a male bonding moment of sorts. The adult showed the youth how to tie the tie, had the youth practice a few times, and the tie was a gift to the young people. These were not cheap ties – these ties were quality material ties… ties that when one would look in the mirror, makes one think more about themselves, that they know that they are Tied To Greatness.

The same young men that were scowling and trying to be “hard” before the day started were now smiling with the assurance in knowing that as black men, there is much more to us than what people see on the outside, that what is on the inside must reflect what is on the outside, and vice versa. Many young men never see what success looks like… never even think about reaching for their dreams, if they had dreams to begin with. This program has opened many young people’s minds to what can be possible in their lives. They just have to believe. For more information on Tied To Greatness, visit their website at http://www.tiedtogreatness.org .

© 2010, Ellis J. Still. All rights reserved

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

______________________________________________________

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you like what you read and you are not yet a Subscriber to my blog, why not subscribe now? All posts are original, there is no fixed schedule, so you would not have to check my blog regularly, and you will be receiving an authentic review of books, organizations and life experiences as a husband and entrepreneur. If you change your mind, it is easy to unsubscribe.
Once you sign up, visit your email inbox to verify your email address. Check your spam folder if you don’t receive any verification emails.
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