The Boston area is a leader for innovation, entrepreneurship and attracting top talent. There are currently a number of important organizations in our city mentoring, inspiring, and preparing high school students, to carry the entrepreneurial and innovation baton. Citizen Schools, Artists for Humanities, The Trinity Foundation, Beacon Academy and Youth CITIES, are a few organizations leading this effort.
Recently, I had the pleasure of attending an event at the State House that supports high school students’ initiatives to bring teen entrepreneurship to Boston. Winchester High School student Ingrid Li, founder of the Entrepreneurial Youth Society, and her team engineered this event and garnered the support of heavy weights such as Senator Katherine Clark and Representative Alice Peisch to inspire teens to follow their entrepreneurial dreams. Tim Rowe, CEO of Cambridge Innovation Center and Greg Selko, CEO of Karmaloop, two well-respected local entrepreneurs, along with Vicky Wu Davis, Executive Director of Youth CITIES, also spoke to the students. Since new city, INC is interested in topics around growing, keeping and attracting talent, this event was of particular interest, especially as it involves our youth.
I was inspired by the positive reactions of the students for the speakers in that room and wanted to learn more about how this spark was being ignited. After the event, I spoke with Vicki Wu Davis of Youth CITIES about her work designing programs connecting mentors with middle and high school students and the impact this effort is having for greater Boston youth. Youth CITIES is a program that inspires, educates and equips middle and high school students to take action and make a difference in their communities.
Vicki offered: “I think there’s a mutual vision between Youth CITIES and Boston’s entrepreneurial eco-system for creating the next generation of entrepreneurs who also care about their impact on community.
Youth CITIES is a boot camp of sorts that uses the principles of entrepreneurship to drive change in kids’ communities. They partner with prominent executives from the business and non-profit community and academia who teach fundamentals of leadership, presentation skills, entrepreneurship, and business plan creation.
Youth CITIES students learning about income statements They have the opportunity to learn from them, network with them and gain confidence when interacting with folks who are top in their field. The goal of Youth CITIES is to help teens figure out what they love to do, explore how they can do more of it, while positively impacting local community, and how to monetize those efforts so venture can be sustainable. The top student venture idea receives a $1500 grant and additional mentoring support to launch a prototype of their idea.“
Vicky shared what drives her and how bringing a strong mentorship program to students is a great benefit for innovation in the future.
I was raised in a family culture where finding a stable job in a large corporation with a good 401(k) program was the career goal. I didn’t know what entrepreneurship was, but thankfully stumbled across it through a trial and error journey, making my own pitches, building my own networks and finding my own mentors while in the hot seat. With Youth CITIES, you get to have that type of experiential learning, but in a safe, respectful environment.”
There are a number of ways to get involved with Youth CITIES:
- Become a mentor with the Boot Camp or Virtual Incubator
- Offer unique contextual learning opportunities through events or companies that students could experience
- Internship opportunities
Giving forward is what these successful adults do when they share their skills and passions to inspire and mentor our youth of today and allow them to have a real-life hands on experience from which to grow.
Cheryl Meyerson is the CEO of new city, INC., a company that offers personalized and comprehensive relocation and transition services for executives and their families when they are transitioning to a new career and life in the Greater Boston area.
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