CYC Young Entrepreneurs take on board rooms

It’s not often that a teenager gets the opportunity to present a legitimate business proposal in a board room to a non-profit organization, but that’s the exact situation two CYC teens achieved a few weeks ago.

 Janese, a CYC-Fellowship House teen, explains various design options to the executives at Chicago Cares.

Janese, a CYC-Fellowship House teen, explains various design options to the executives at Chicago Cares.

CYC recently developed a partnership with Chicago Cares, a volunteer mobilization organization. A new club, CYC Young Entrepreneurs, comprised of eight select teens across our Centers are developing a business plan to design, market, and sell 1,250-1,500 official event T-shirts during Chicago Cares’ 25th Serve-a-Thon event in mid-June.

This collaboration has pushed the involved teens to think critically about design, get quotes from vendors, sort out the logistics behind prices, sizes, and quality, while working on their public speaking skills as they pitch their “business” to the organization.

The teens are working with staff and professional mentors. The skills they are developing include understanding the power of collaborative work, the ideation procession, how to research, and how to negotiate.

"I learned that to be a successful entrepreneur, you have to have an idea and believe in it, but you also have to take feedback and persevere to improve it,” said Janese, a teen at CYC-Fellowship House. “It’s also important to have fun and believe in yourself, no matter what."

 Sean, a CYC-Elliott Donnelley Youth Center teen, walks the executives at Chicago Cares through the business plan the CYC Young Entrepreneurs had developed.

Sean, a CYC-Elliott Donnelley Youth Center teen, walks the executives at Chicago Cares through the business plan the CYC Young Entrepreneurs had developed.

CYC Chief Operating Officer Scott Merrow said CYC is extremely fortunate that Chicago Cares agreed to partner on this pilot program.

“These are hands-on real life 21st century business skills that are laying the foundation for CYC kids’ future professional endeavors,” Scott said. “These are the kids Chicago companies are going to want to hire because of programs like this.”

Jenné Myers, the CEO of Chicago Cares, said the organization is excited to be the first client for CYC’s new venture to design T-shirts for the 25th annual Serve-a-thon.

 “Our mission is to build a stronger, more unified Chicago through volunteerism, and we can live those values by investing in the great potential and promise of our city’s talented young people,” Jenné said. “The process has been a fun learning experience for all of us, and we can’t wait to see the final t-shirts.”

 The Chicago Cares executives and CYC staff and teens posed for a photo after the business meeting.

The Chicago Cares executives and CYC staff and teens posed for a photo after the business meeting.