Summer is an opportunity for youth to start learning important job responsibilities and skills that will benefit them throughout the school year and beyond. But for many teens, especially in lower income communities, those opportunities are hard to find. In fact, in Massachusetts, 64% of youth age 19-24 are unemployed.
But what if, as a teenager, you could spend the summer running your own business?
For these two teams involved with Youth Venture, a social entrepreneurship program for youth, that’s exactly what they are doing. Last fall, 32 Youth Venture teams came up with business ideas, learned how to pitch their ventures, and received up to $1,000 to execute their plan. In May, four of these businesses were so good that they were invited to pitch for a second round of funding, with two teams winning $10,000 each to continue growing their businesses.
A thrift store run out of the East Boston Martin Pino Community Center, ReRunz was created out of the teens’ recognition that many families in their community did not have appropriate clothing during the harsh winter and the nearest thrift store was over a half hour away. ReRunz collected donated clothing, secured a partnership with a local laundromat to clean the clothes for free, and even started making a small profit.
With the $10,000 they plan to rent a storage pod and a truck to take ReRunz on the road into other communities in need. They will also be able to start paying themselves, which will allow them to keep ReRunz open for more hours.
“We really weren’t sure if we were able to pull it off, but it really taught us that hard work pays off in a big way. I personally will never forget the excitement and pride I felt hearing them call ReRunz as a winner.”
-Tiffany LaCascia, ReRunz
To donate clothing or visit ReRunz, connect with them on Facebook.
Youth Unleashed is a team from the Ohrenberger Community Center in West Roxbury whose mission is to better connect young people to activities and events at community centers across Boston and keep kids off the streets, especially during the summer. Over the last year, they successfully built a website – occyouthunleashed.com – and hosted numerous events, including a pick-up basketball tournament for kids from different community centers.
Since winning the $10,000 funding, Youth Unleashed has plugged in even more community programs and partners with their business and they have started working with an app developer. They’ve accomplished all of this, in addition to working at their own summer jobs!
“With any little time we have left in the day, we are working constantly on improving our business and making it a success. Most of the time, we are meeting on the weekends and working on different strategies and techniques on how to bring the youth off the streets and into our centers. Our business is going to be booming for the next 15 years and so on!”
– Paul Joseph, CEO of Youth Unleashed
ReRunz and Youth Unleashed both plan to continue growing their businesses throughout the next year and beyond. And this fall, 300 more young people will join Youth Venture with fresh ideas to change their communities. These teens prove that investing in youth and giving them the opportunity to lead can really pay off – “for the next 15 years and so on!”
To get involved with Youth Venture as a volunteer or youth organization, contact Sam Zito at firstname.lastname@example.org.