2020-2021 YEAR IN REVIEW
VYEF programs are free to educators and high school students, empowering them with new entrepreneurial business skills.
Upcycle: Enterprise is still available and can be accessed here: Upcycle: Enterprise
Upcycle Innovation Competition was an ideation challenge that was an extension of Upcycle: Enterprise offered to select schools. Fifty-two students submitted short videos to pitch the designs they created, presenting a vast array of creative ideas from a prototype for a sustainable stand for Covid masks to solutions for increasing bee population. A panel of judges identified five finalists and the winner received a $250 Amazon gift card.
The Fall session of Thinkfest took place on November 19, 2020 with 47 participants attending virtually from schools and homes.
The Spring session of Thinkfest was held on April 16, 2021 with 120 students participating virtually from schools and homes.
The workshops were steered and moderated by Dr. Jeffrey Stamp, creator of Baked! Lays Potato Chips, the Olive Garden breadstick, and many other well-known brands. Dr. Stamp is chief storyteller at Bold Thinking, LLC, where he leads a team of highly skilled thinkers in a 12,000 square foot creativity laboratory that provides ideation and concept development services to corporations and universities worldwide.
Continuous access to the program and curriculum can be found here: Thinkfest Video and Creative Exploration
Junior Achievement Stock Market Challenge
Teams of 4 to 5 students were issued $1,000,000 of “mock stock” and had to buy and sell shares in fictitious companies throughout a simulated 60-day trading period. Trading was fast, fun, and furious with a new day starting every 60 seconds!
Prior to the challenge, over 500 students received the JA curriculum, completing five in-class lessons and were introduced to the importance of investing and saving, created team-building skills, and gained the knowledge to build a solid financial foundation for their future!
This program is hosted by JA of Greater Cleveland.
280 students, forming 109 teams submitted entries:
December 30, 2020
24 Semifinalists announced: January 11, 2021
Finalists’ Live Pitch: March 2, 2021
Upcycle Scrappy Hour
The culmination of the THINKBIG! Challenge was the THINKBIG! Summit which highlighted four teams, two from the small business track and two from innovation, competing for a total of $8,000 in prize money. The virtual 2021 thinkBIG! Summit was held on March 2nd with schools from all around Northeast Ohio joining in on a morning filled with new ideas and excitement. Students first heard from Justin Lafazan and his inspirational journey to becoming co-founder and co-CEO of Next Gen HQ, with the opportunity to ask Justin about his experience being a young founder and what is means to be an entrepreneur. The audience was then able to participate in challenges based on their current knowledge of the start-up community and discuss what skills they think is needed to become an entrepreneur.
The morning concluded with our finalists: Nature of Kindness and Second Chance from Hathaway Brown, S.E.N.S.E. from Columbus Academy, and Scaper from Bay High School pitching their ideas. The teams were joined by a panel of three judges who provided them with valuable feedback into next steps for their ventures. The panel included Lani Lazzari, President and CEO of Simple Sugars; Mai Moore, Founder and Executive Director of Empowering Youth Exploring Justice CLE; and Tayo Rockson, President and CEO of UYD Management.
With impressive presentations and innovative ventures from all teams, Nature of Kindness and S.E.N.S.E. took home the title as winners of the 2021 thinkBIG! Challenge! The dedication and curiosity behind each entry was incredible and we hope their entrepreneurial mindset will lead them into a successful future.
“If you never give up, you become unstoppable in your pursuit.” -Justin Lafazan, co-founder of NextGen Summit, 2021 thinkBIG! Summit Keynote Speaker