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A state education organization is offering the opportunity for young people to better communities

Wyoming Afterschool Alliance

TheWyoming Young Entrepreneur Pitch Challenge is a contest for K-12 school aged students to promote their ideas for a product or service that could benefit their community, the environment, or the state.

This challenge, which opened for pitches at the beginning of the month, is the fourth time that the Wyoming Afterschool Alliance (WAA) has hosted it. Previous challenge events took place in the spring and fall of 2021 as well as earlier this year.

“[The] Young Entrepreneur Pitch Challenge is an opportunity for young people to come up with a solution or a good or service for their community and pitch it to entrepreneurs across the state who will give them some coaching or support them and trying to build this pitch into a functional business,” explained Emily Vercoe, Program Associate with the WAA. “We have three different groups, an elementary age group, middle school age group, and then a high school age group. Historically, our high school pitch challenge has been the most popular among young people.”

Vercoe said there have been many great ideas in the past like a series of organizational planners, which eventually started into a business around timekeeping and fishing lures that retract automatically.

“We had a young woman this spring pitch, an idea of recycling sheep manure from her farm, she's providing it to local gardeners,” she said.

For the pitches that are selected, $100 award is given in addition to mentoring on how they could make their concept more long-term. So far, there have been no submissions as of yet, though the majority of submissions have often come in at a later point in the application window.

Pitches can be submitted online and are asked questions to better tailor the product or service to a target audience.

“The way it's designed, especially for groups and after school organizations or business classes, they'll go through the pitch process or the entrepreneurship process or modules available on our website that they can walk through how to develop a pitch,” Vercoe explained. [Applicants answer questions such as,] “How do you determine your market? What is a good case for your audience? Several different business strategy type activities, and then their pitches the resulting final product.”

The WAA is planning to expand their youth offerings and have established partnerships with various organizations throughout the state to better serve students and their ideas. They plan to do this by integrating ideas into community outreach.

Schools throughout the state are encouraged to work with the WAA to get the initiative in front of students. Extracurricular activities and organizations, such as 4-H and Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) can also participate in the initiative as part of their offerings to students.

The current challenge is open for pitches until Nov. 30. The initiative is funded by a grant from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.

Hugh Cook is Wyoming Public Radio's Northeast Reporter, based in Gillette. A fourth-generation Northeast Wyoming native, Hugh joined Wyoming Public Media in October 2021 after studying and working abroad and in Washington, D.C. for the late Senator Mike Enzi.
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