ATLANTA — Aug. 1, 2006 — Team Creative Solutions Inc. from New York City, a student-created business plan specializing in providing consumers with a personal and interactive method for shopping online, won top honors at the Making the Business: Youth IT Challenge competition hosted at the annual National Urban League (NUL) Convention. The competition was developed by Microsoft Corp. and the NUL to increase entrepreneurialism among minorities and to spark their interest in the technology industry.
“Economic development is key for the success of African Americans and minorities overall in this country,” said Marc Morial, CEO and president of the National Urban League. “These students, as they have shown us here today, are a testament that access to the right resources and mentors encourages youth to seek out opportunities in the business world and the IT field alike. I know we’ll see the names of these students in the business pages and in the boardrooms across America one day.”
The Youth IT Challenge is an entrepreneurial and technology-based competition aimed at minority youth between 14 and 18 years old in Atlanta, Dallas, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Seattle, St. Paul, Minn., and Washington, D.C. Students are paired with mentors from NUL affiliates and Microsoft® employees from each city.
Just a few months ago, an Internet-based business was only a dream for Cassius Flemming of Rice High School, José Gomez and Roseline Idoko of Murry Bergtraum High School, and Audrey Monday of Legacy High School. The students worked collaboratively with NUL and Microsoft representatives over the past six months to generate a comprehensive business plan for their Internet-based idea. The team was chosen among winners of local competitions from the participating cities.
“When the winning team was announced, I literally had tears in my eyes,” said Darwin Davis, president and CEO of the New York Urban League. “I knew that a scant six months ago these youngsters did not know each other, showed little evidence of teamwork, team building, technical skills, or business planning. To see how far they have come makes Microsoft, their volunteers, the National Urban League and the New York Urban League proud.”
As the national champion, Team Creative Solutions Inc. received $15,000 in prizes from the program sponsors. Each student received a Lenovo ThinkPad R50e and an Xbox 360™.
Coming in at second place was team International Connection from Dallas, which created a Web-based foreign language training site. Each team member received a Canon PowerShot A620 and an Xbox 360. The third-place winner was Vital Systems of Pittsburgh, offering a product to monitor the vital signs of an individual, including heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure. Each third-place winner received a Dell Creative MicroPhoto MP3 and an Xbox 360.
In developing this program, Microsoft and NUL strived to emphasize the real-world implications it would have for its participants. “Far too often, the technology industry is not directly engaged with urban communities,” said José Piñero, diversity director for Marketing and Public Relations at Microsoft. “Microsoft’s collaboration with the National Urban League in the development of this unique program provides women and minority youth with access to resources and mentors that enable them to be lifelong learners and realize their potential with technology. Youth IT Challenge serves as an example of a how a private-public initiative can affect local communities and as a model for other corporations in this field to emulate.”
The 10-week program for the Youth IT Challenge was designed to prepare the students for the competitions and was hosted by the local NUL affiliate offices. Students learned basic research techniques and market analysis in developing their technology-based business plan. NUL President and CEO Marc Morial lauded the students for their efforts. “For many of our students, this is an opportunity of a lifetime,” Morial said. “They are acquiring skills that will help them advance to a university and become IT professionals and our future business leaders.”
About the National Urban League
Established in 1910, The Urban League is the nation’s oldest and largest community-based movement devoted to empowering African Americans to enter the economic and social mainstream. Today, the National Urban League, headquartered in New York City, spearheads the non-partisan efforts of its local affiliates. There are over 100 local affiliates of the National Urban League located in 35 states and the District of Columbia providing direct services to more than 2 million people nationwide through programs, advocacy and research.
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