Building Youth Entrepreneurship with the YMCA

Imagine a program where youth from our community could learn to create a business while gaining the skills to succeed in a business they create. Real world experience in persistence, salesmanship, and pride in excellent work paired with designing a website, tracking performance, and building a customer base would give teens experience in business and entrepreneurialism. The good news is that this program does exist!

Startup Smartup provides lessons through video tutorials and written guides to help teens learn to set up a website, find customers and track performance, as well as understanding the importance of persistence, doing the job well, and principles of salesmanship. Teens can be earning money from their own business before they know it. They can learn to create a business in areas such as babysitting, lawn care, dog walking, window washing, pool cleaning, and web development.

The ten-session program provides five lessons designed to build the business and five lessons to help each student evaluate personality type, strengths, and areas of interest to further help choose and succeed in one of eight simple-to-begin businesses.

YMCA of Morgan County has offered Startup Smartup to students in the Club Mid after school program at Wooden Middle school for the past two years. Thanks to support from Community Foundation of Morgan County, the Y can offer instruction to additional youth serving organizations such as Wellspring, Churches in Mission, and Martinsville Youth Development Center. The program uses a project-based learning platform and modular course design.

Youth in Morgan County need greater opportunities to gain experience that will help them to build workplace skills. Only 46% of Morgan County teens participate in the workforce; nearly 16% of youth under age 18 live in poverty. Workforce development programs such as Startup Smartup can help teens develop in the following areas:

-Increasing Educational Opportunities for Youth- the program teaches fundamentals of entrepreneurialism, work ethic, goal setting, salesmanship, communication, and community engagement through charitable work.

-Promoting Employment and Asset-Building Opportunities- the program promotes 21st century skills including coding, website design, social media marketing, and CRM exposure to better position students to enter the job market with high value, in-demand technical skills.

-Fostering Healthy Environments- Startup Smartup fosters student confidence and self-esteem through community and peer engagement using entrepreneurship as the vehicle.

-Improving Social Skills- Efforts to foster resiliency, ambition, and empowerment through skills to promote social development. Focus areas include how to collaborate with others, engaging others to build trust, and sharing viewpoints in a productive manner to be solution oriented.

Startup Smartup provides an opportunity to talk with youth about career goals while giving them skills needed to succeed.

YMCA of Morgan County provides the leading youth development programs in the county. Preschool programs are provided to prepare our youth for school, before and after school programs enhance the learning gained during the school day at schools in MSD Martinsville, Monroe-Gregg Schools, and Eminence Schools. Summer day camp and summer learning loss prevention programs help keep youth healthy, active, and on target to pass school testing requirements. The Y is a 501c3 non-profit dedicated to Youth Development, Healthy Living, and Social Responsibility.

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