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Summer Workforce Program group teens

Boys & Girls Clubs Empower Teen Entrepreneurs Through Summer Workforce Program

Contact:Marissa Gleockler, Acting Vice President of Communications

FORT PIERCE, FL.: In an effort to foster the entrepreneurial spirit among young minds, Boys & Girls Clubs of St. Lucie County hosted a six-week, life-enriching summer entrepreneurship program for their teen members thanks to funding by Truist Bank. Led by Indian River State College professor Marvin Williamson, the program aimed to equip teens with invaluable entrepreneurship, marketing, and business skills while embracing their creativity and harnessing their potential as future business leaders.

The program, which commenced in early June, took an innovative approach to education by encouraging the teen entrepreneurs to pull from their personal experiences and interests to build the foundation of their business plan. Professor Williamson, known for his passion for empowering young minds, led the teens in small groups, meeting a couple of days each week throughout the summer.

“Before looking at business plans, I encouraged teens to find something they’re passionate about,” said Williamson. “Once they figured out what was important to them, they were able
to identify a need that their product could fulfill.”

Each team delved into various aspects of product development, from creating comprehensive marketing plans to designing efficient manufacturing strategies. The holistic approach aimed to provide a well-rounded learning experience that extended beyond theoretical knowledge.

On July 19, 2023, the program culminated in a thrilling “Shark Tank” style pitch event that brought the participants’ hard work and ingenuity to the forefront. Professor Williamson and Cynthia Sanchez, Boys & Girls Clubs of St. Lucie County Director of Teen Initiatives, orchestrated the event, providing a platform for the teens to showcase their products before a panel of distinguished judges.

The panel of judges comprised four highly successful entrepreneurs, all of whom had appeared on the show.” Their invaluable expertise and experience in the business world added an exciting dimension to the event, creating an environment of both nervous excitement and unwavering determination among the young participants.

The esteemed panel of judges included Port St. Lucie-based Bug Bite Thing Founder & CEO Kelley Higney, Melbourne-based SwiftPaws Founder & CEO Meghan Wolfgram, West Palm Beach-based NightCapCo-Founder and President Michael Benarde and Texas-based Lion Latch Creator Lerin Lockwood.

Higney said, “I was incredibly impressed by the presentations and the creativity that went into creating them. The teens learned real-life skills that will benefit them as they continue to explore the different career opportunities available to them.”

Each judge brought their unique perspectives and experiences to the panel, evaluating the teens’ product pitches with keen eyes and offering constructive feedback. This rare opportunity to interact with successful entrepreneurs added tremendous value to the participants’ learning experience, inspiring them to dream big and aim high in their entrepreneurial pursuits.

Looking to the future of Boys & Girls Clubs’ workforce readiness program, Bug Bite Thing also announced at the event the launch of its Entrepreneurship in Action Program in partnership with Boys & Girls Clubs of St. Lucie County. Bug Bite Thing Founder & CEO Kelley Higney will teach Boys & Girls Clubs teens at the Westside Club. The year-long program will provide teens with the opportunity to dive deeper into the world of entrepreneurship.

As these young entrepreneurs embark on their respective journeys, the valuable lessons and experiences gained during the program will undoubtedly shape their futures positively. Boys & Girls Clubs’ commitment to fostering young talent and inspiring the next generation of business leaders has left an indelible mark on the lives of these teens, setting them on a path to success and innovation.

Summer Workforce Program

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