The U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC) Foundation recognized four high school students from Texas and Illinois for their top scores in the National BizFest Youth Entrepreneurship Competition. The competition took place in September at the USHCC Annual National Convention in Los Angeles and the winners were announced at a special BizFest Reception.
BizFest is an intensive entrepreneurial training program, sponsored by Bank of America, which teaches high school youth how to turn their hobbies into profitable business ventures. At this national event, 12 of the top students from the regional BizFest competitions vied against one another for three coveted spots and the chance to win a college scholarship in recognition of their achievements. For the first time in recent BizFest history there was a tie for third place. The first, second and third place winners were slated to receive $3,000, $2,000 and $1,000 scholarships, respectively.
In this year's national competition, first place was awarded to Tyler Scott from the Business, Education & Technology Academy High School in Texas who presented his plan "On the Go Froyo." Second place went to Aranza Garza from J. Economedes High School in Texas with her plan "Coffee Seed." Third place went to both Sara Bennack from Lyford High School for her plan "University Art Consignment Studio" and Robert Upton from Kenwood Academy in Illinois for his plan "Falcon Security."
In addition to the winners, the outstanding finalists who competed in Los Angeles include:
Kelsie Alvarado (San Isidro High School) - "Cafe de Kelsie"Luis Arellano (Community Links High School) - "Mile X Inc"Joi Brock (Kenwood Academy) - "Le Placard"Katherine De La Rosa (Business, Education & Technology Academy) - "BizNet"Joel Leal (Business, Education & Technology Academy) - "Recreating Recreation for Women"Midyana Mireles (Santa Rosa High School) - "Texas Students United"Sergio Sanchez (Lyons Township High School) - "Gizmo Gadget"Datus Short (Kenwood Academy) - "Phresh"
"Programs like BizFest are critical to the success of our future business leaders. An early focus on financial literacy will provide our youth with the competitive advantage needed to excel in an increasingly competitive job market," said USHCC Foundation president & CEO Javier Palomarez. "Our presenting sponsor, Bank of America, knows that teaching these subjects early is critical to a secure financial future. Their support this year has been invaluable to our organization and this program."
During the BizFest program, expert trainers from the University of Texas - Pan American taught the students various business techniques including how to network in business environments, how to deliver presentations and how to develop succinct pitches. Students also worked to refine their winning business plans from the regional competitions then presented them to an esteemed panel of judges which included Bank of America representatives and USHCC Chamber Members. Throughout the competition, the students also attended various workshops presented by Bank of America representatives and had the opportunity to bring their theoretical networking lessons to life as they mingled with successful Hispanic entrepreneurs and business leaders.
"At Bank of America, we believe that developing entrepreneurial skills and personal financial management in conjunction with mentoring helps young people advance academically and achieve long-term success regardless of their career path. That's why we're proud to partner with the USHCC Foundation in support of its entrepreneurship program that empowers youth with knowledge and insight into the world of business," said Kerry Sullivan, Bank of America Charitable Foundation President.
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