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COLUMBIA, Mo. – The Missouri AfterSchool Network (MASN) invites all youth-serving organizations and clubs to encourage students to participate in the 2021 Missouri Youth Entrepreneurship Pitch Challenge by submitting videos pitching a business idea.
The video pitch challenge is designed to support young people in K-12 after-school programs to overcome isolation, connect with peers and caring adults, practice proactive thinking like an entrepreneur and pitch an original idea for a business, product, technology or social venture that would make their community and world better, said Mark Cowsert, MASN associate director of policy and partnerships.
“Amid an unprecedented 2020-2021 school year disrupted by COVID-19, every student deserves the opportunity to experience entrepreneurship,” said Terri Foulkes, executive director of MASN. “The video pitch contest is a fun and exciting way for students to unleash their creativity and imagination, apply STEM skills and thinking or turn a hobby or interest into solving a problem earning income through self-employment.”
A panel of Missouri educators, entrepreneurs and business professionals will judge video entries for awards and prizes. There will be an online celebration and recognition program for students, their families and after-school supporters on Monday, May 17.
After-school programs can conduct short educational programs and host local pitch events leading to student entries in the statewide contest, Cowsert said. They can also support individual K-12 students in preparing video pitches and entering the contest. A Pitch Challenge toolkit training, open to all after-school programs, will be held 10-11:30 a.m. Wednesday, April 7.
To enter, individual students create a 45-90-second video pitch, register for the pitch challenge and upload their video by grade level (K-5, 6-8, 9-12) on or before April 30.
“As students think critically and creatively, apply problem-solving, generate ideas and exercise their voices, they build the mindset and skill set of an entrepreneur, which they can carry into any future postsecondary training or career,” Foulkes said.
Ongoing support is provided by MASN with training and technical assistance partners Young Entrepreneur Institute and VentureLab. By participating in the Pitch Challenge, students and programs can join a broader effort coordinated by MASN and statewide partners to help K-12 after-school students with growing viable microenterprises and connect students to support systems and opportunities for entrepreneurs in their communities, Cowsert said.
Visit MoAfterSchool.org/entrep(opens in new window) for details, registration, a toolkit for after-school programs and results from the 2020 pitch challenge.
The Missouri AfterSchool Network builds partnerships and systems across the state that improve, support, and sustain high-quality afterschool programs. For more information, visit MoAfterSchool.org(opens in new window).
Writer: Mark Cowsert