Memphis, TN — Idea Incubator ArtUp has announced the elevator pitch contest winner for the finale of their pilot DreamUp Youth Incubator. In response to economic downturn due to the COVID-19 pandemic and continued social unrest, ArtUp led 20 Shelby County Schools and private school students in development of their own creative business pitches via a virtual accelerated 3-week entrepreneurship bootcamp.
DreamUp was developed as a response to the devastation and impact of COVID-19 on Summer youth employment opportunities, particularly affecting African-American students ages 14-18. While economic downturn and social unrest continue to make headlines, several housing insecure and homeless students participated in the program as a target demographic facing these challenges in their everyday lives.
18-year old Kynnidi Caffey, a 2019 graduate of Briarcrest Christian School, won a $500 prize for delivering a 60-second pitch about her custom T-shirt company “Fits Us!”. She, along with other student entrepreneurs attended virtual courses and completed robust assignments on the entrepreneurial mindset, design thinking, and pitch deck creation led by undergraduates from the Harvard University Women in Business club at Harvard College in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Aurelia Han, a rising Junior at Harvard College and Co-Founder of Cade’s Cakes based in Dallas, TX and New York, NY, said, “I loved seeing the growth of each student from the beginning to the end of the incubator. Each student also had such different business ideas but seeing them help one another to grow their ideas was awesome.”
Hard work paid off for Caffey who appealed to judges with a creative enterprise striving to “provide a plethora of fun and empowering clothing options in all sizes”. She was also awarded the opportunity to join ArtUp founder and Harvard University alumna Linda Steele as a guest presenter to the Harvard Summer School class of 2020.
“I think this program should be made available year-round,” said Caffey. “I learned and gained invaluable information from this program that I will utilize throughout my academic and personal life. Thank you for such a wonderful opportunity and experience!”
At the end of the Incubator student “Dreamers” left fully equipped to identify a problem and use innovative solutions to create a community-wide impact.
Executive Director of Student Equity, Enrollment & Discipline for Shelby County Schools Dr. Angela Hargrave attended student presentations at the end of the program. “I was overjoyed to see the creative work of the students. Even more important than the ideas that the students presented was the growth that I saw in their confidence and the spirit of accomplishment. This is a phenomenal program that can change the trajectory of our students’ lives.”
ArtUp distributed copies of Mo’s Bows: A Young Person’s Guide to Start-Up Success by native Memphian and kidpreneur Moziah Bridges. Sibling duo Madison Star and Mallory Iyana of Angels & Tomboys, also preteen entrepreneurs from Memphis, served as inspiration after their appearance on season 8 of MSNBC’s Shark Tank.
Students left the program with skills in leadership and public speaking, and lifelong traits such as confidence, resilience, and character-building. They also received compensation from the City of Memphis Youth Services division for working on their business project throughout the Incubator.
“City Youth Services is proud to have partnered with ArtUp to provide our youth interested in owning their own business with this opportunity,” said Director Ike Griffith. “The DreamUp curriculum and instruction gave our students the experience of a lifetime.”
To learn more, follow ArtUp @weartup on Instagram and Facebook, and @WeAreArtUp on Twitter.
ArtUp breaks down barriers in the creative economy with programs designed to eliminate citywide inequity and lack of inclusion practices. They nurture ideas that drive social change by teaching artists and creative citizens to channel their talents and skills into the creation of sustainable, arts- and culture-based businesses that uplift and empower whole neighborhoods. They launch artists into creative entrepreneurship and support them every step of the way. ArtUp guides and supports our current cohorts and alumni network as they navigate the ups and downs of entrepreneurship. Building sustainable creative businesses and cultivating successful creative entrepreneurs is what they do at ArtUp. Or, as they like to say, that’s how #weartup.
ArtUp is the only commercial tenant in the South Main Artspace Lofts in Memphis, Tennessee, and a community partner with Artspace Projects, Inc., the leading non-profit developer of live/work artist housing, artist studios, arts centers and arts-friendly businesses in the U.S.
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