|Morning Session Winners|
Jacqueline Novogratz, founder of Acumen Fund, said, “My dream is to find individuals who take financial resources and convert them into changing the world in the most positive ways.”
On Tuesday, February 16th high school entrepreneurs from across Colorado met at Johns Manville, A Berkshire Hathaway Company, to compete for seed funding in the 8th annual FIRE Within Business Plan Competition.
The FIRE Within empowers youth to build and launch revenue generating businesses that help prevent suicide in their communities. Students learn to identify primary causes of peer distress such as bullying or the pressure to succeed. They create innovative marketing campaigns and develop products or services that impact those issues in positive ways. FIRE Within students become empathic leaders who can talk about tough topics and make their school culture healthier, happier, and more resilient. The business and life skills they develop will help them succeed in college, career, and their personal lives.
“I continue to be impressed by these students! They demonstrated a desire to understand issues related to causes of suicide and how significantly their communities are impacted by suicide,” said Peter Bernstein, Senior Private Client Advisor, VP, at Bank of the West. “They took the next steps by providing a tangible and profitable business model which was designed to inform, encourage, and ignite.”
During the competition students pitch their business plans to a panel of judges, including business, mental health, and educational leaders. Representing two divisions, 1st place awards went to Westminster and Columbine High Schools, 2nd place went to Highlands Ranch and Prairie View High Schools, and Green Mountain High School and HOPE @ Alpha Learning Academy took home 3rd place.
|Afternoon Session Winners|
Westminster High School students discovered that their peers struggled to balance stressors from school and home so they built Tees 4 Teens, a business that sells customizable shirts with inspirational messages. The shirts are part of a campaign to build positive coping skills and social awareness about local suicide prevention resources. Columbine High School students identified feelings of isolation and loneliness as primary causes of distress among their peers. In response, they launched Rebel’s Rally, which sells tumbler style water bottles that come with two friendship style bracelets and information on local mental health resources. Buyers keep one bracelet and give the other to someone who may be feeling alone, strengthening their school environment and making students feel more connected.
“The students’ teamwork and dedication toward their businesses really impressed me,” said Gina Olberding, Population Health Management Specialist at Pinnacol Assurance. “Their grasp of the underlying reasons for suicide thoughts was obvious, and they used that insight to engage their peers in innovative ways.”
For more information about how your community can get involved with the FIRE Within contact Ginna Jones Ginna@CarsonJSpencer.org or visit www.CarsonJSpencer.org.
About the Carson J Spencer Foundation - Sustaining a Passion for Living
The Carson J Spencer Foundation (www.CarsonJSpencer.org) is a Colorado nonprofit, established in 2005. We envision a world where leaders and communities are committed to sustaining a passion for living. We sustain a passion for living by:
- Delivering innovative and effective suicide prevention programs for working-aged people
- Empowering youth entrepreneurs to prevent suicide
- Supporting people bereaved by suicide
The Carson J Spencer Foundation is the proud 2013 recipient of the “Small Nonprofit of the Year” award from the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce.