May 18, 2022
Riverside High School Students Win Local Business Pitch Competition
Students from a local afterschool program successfully pitched and won a youth entrepreneurship competition hosted in partnership by the Florida Afterschool Network and Communities in Schools Jacksonville.
JACKSONVILLE, FL – The Florida Afterschool Network (FAN) recently partnered with Communities in Schools Jacksonville (CISJax) to host a youth entrepreneurship program at seven afterschool programs at Jacksonville high schools using the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) curriculum and resources. For the past three months, students met at least once a week to learn the basics of business development, the changing needs of the workforce, and how to cultivate an entrepreneurial mindset. On Tuesday, May 17, those seven schools pitched their student-developed business plans for a chance to win cash prizes and a seat at an upcoming regional competition. All participants gained valuable life experiences and connections into the business community.

A panel of five judges including executive staff from both sponsoring agencies, as well as Jacksonville-based entrepreneur LaQuinta “Cara” Campbell (Sweet Cara Delights, LLC) evaluated seven “fast pitch” presentations on the following domains: problem/opportunity identification, value proposition, underlying “magic,” target market, and cost structure. Each pitch was followed by direct questions from the judges. All students were invited to be present for all pitches and question sessions, but deliberations were held in private. 

Ultimately, the student team from Riverside High School claimed the winning prize for its social solution, “Boujee Bags,” to provide low-income female students access and education on feminine healthcare and products. Two members of this team will now advance to a regional “biz-camp” hosted by NFTE during the summer, as well as receive a cash incentive and seed money to grow their business. If they win, they will advance to a national competition for a chance to win $10,000 and a network of business connections. 

“We are so excited this opportunity introduced our students to a possible path in entrepreneurship,” stated Leon Baxton, CEO of CIS Jax. “These kids are full of new and creative ideas and to be able to give them the tools and support to help bring their dreams to fruition and set them up on a successful career path is just incredible.”

Students from Ribault and Terry Parker earned second and third places for their tutoring and vegan soap businesses, respectively. Other competing high schools included Westside, First Coast, Andrew Jackson, and Raines.
FAN's work with CIS Jax is part of a Youth Entrepreneurship Initiative to bring together community and industry stakeholders to create a local business ecosystem to support the expansion of the entrepreneurial mindset among Florida's youth. This initiative aims to not only increase high school graduation rates for disadvantaged youth, but create more opportunities for youth to succeed in life and the workplace after graduation. 

“I am blown away by the quality of ideas and business organization that all of the students exhibited during this competition,” stated Lili Murphy, Executive Director of FAN. “We hope to replicate this type of project in even more communities across the state so that high-quality youth entrepreneurship opportunities are available to even more youth so we can better prepare them for the rapidly changing workforce of today and, especially, tomorrow.” 

FAN receives funding and support from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation to implement this work. Other supportive partners include the CareerSource Florida, the Florida College Access Network, local Chambers of Commerce, the National League of Cities and the National Conference of State Legislatures. For more information about the Florida Afterschool Network and to learn more about its Youth Entrepreneurship resources,
The Florida Afterschool Network launched its Youth Entrepreneurship initiative in the spring of 2021 with support from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation. Its goal is to expand the entrepreneurial mindset among Florida's youth to truly help better prepare students for college and career success in today's changing workforce beyond graduation. An entrepreneurial mindset is a set of skills that enable people to identify and make the most of opportunities, overcome and learn from setbacks, and succeed in a variety of settings. Research shows that an entrepreneurial mindset is valued by employers, boosts educational attainment and performance, and is crucial for creating new businesses. Learn more by visiting us online, joining our YE Facebook group (link below), or contacting our YE Specialist, Jennifer Smith, at
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