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Entrepreneurial Foster Youth Compete to Win Investments

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Investments in Real-World Business Ideas

Just in Time for Foster Youth to Host “Shark Tank” Inspired Competition on September 15

San Diego, CA– This month, three transition age foster youth will face off to a panel of expert judges for a chance to win a $3,000 investment in their business ideas. Just in Time for Foster Youth, a local nonprofit that helps young people transition from foster care to self-sufficiency and well-being, will host its first annual entrepreneurial competition during their Pathways to Financial Power conference on Saturday, September 15.

For this “Shark Tank” inspired event, Just in Time sent a call to compete to their Pathways to Financial Power participants, all youth who have spent time growing up in foster care. The competition is part of Pathways’ intention to embed young men and women in a supportive community of volunteers and like-minded peers with common goals: to promote confidence and work readiness, plus establish a strong financial foundation.

“Both during and after foster care, the young people we serve lack the consistent relationships everyone needs to succeed but they are expected to fend for themselves once they’re on their own,” said Don Wells, Just in Time Executive Director. “Without the fundamental support of a family or caring adults who believe in them and their futures, the odds are against them. Our entrepreneur contest is just one of many innovative ways we empower youth to shatter low expectations and show the world that they are just as capable of success as anyone else.”

The call to compete inspired 13 eager young businesspeople to submit their initial business plans for review. After evaluation from a volunteer panel of local business professionals, a “Super Six” were picked to develop actionable business plans with one-on-one support from volunteer coaches, all successful entrepreneurs themselves.

“It’s been such a pleasure working with the participants on their ideas,” said Bob Freund, who served as a business plan coach. “They are such bright, resilient, creative young men and women, and the enthusiasm, hope and potential they have are so powerful. I can’t wait to see the finalists compete at the Pathways conference – I have no doubt the winner will blow the judges away!”

Just this week, three finalists were chosen to make their pitch to real business professionals, investors and peers during the Pathways conference. Among these finalists are Maral Bagheri, whose business, Shadez, would produce high-end, durable and chic dashboard sun protectors that fold easily for glove compartment storage; Veronica Thomas, who aspires to open a dynamic food truck called Cali Munchiezzz to serve traditional ethnic dishes while promoting skill development and benefiting multicultural and foster care communities; and Gabi VanKonynenburg, whose app concept, Odd League, would bring together people with common interests in health, fitness and sports.

The judges for the competition include several prominent names from around San Diego such as Jean Balgrosky, founder of Bootstrap Venture Partners and CIO of MD Revolution; Mark Gleiberman, CEO of MG Properties Group; Mitch Lynn, Owner of CRI 2000, LP; and Tina and David Thomas, Partner at LBA Realty, LLC.

The competition kicks off at 1:45 PM during the Pathways to Financial Power conference at Junior Achievement of San Diego County on Saturday, September 15. After deliberation from the judges, a grand prize winner will be selected at 2:30 PM to win a $3,000 investment in their business. Both runners-up will also be awarded a $1,000 investment each.

The Pathways to Financial Power conference and entrepreneurial competition are made possible thanks to the generous support of title sponsor, the Community Impact Fund at the Rancho Santa Fe Foundation, and presenting sponsors, Del Mar Highlands Town Center and Sue and Jay Lichter.

To learn more about Just in Time for Foster Youth or make an investment in Pathways to Financial Power, please visit jitfosteryouth.org.

About Just in Time for Foster Youth  –Just in Time for Foster Youth (JIT) is a nonprofit that serves young people who leave the foster care system at age 18 without a safety net or a family to assist with their transition to adulthood. JIT provides a community of support to help these young adults stay on the path to self-sufficiency. Serving more than 750 youth annually, JIT is focused on stable housing, essential education, meaningful employment, financial security, reliable transportation, positive connections, confidence and well-being. For  more information, visit www.jitfosteryouth.org.


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  • Published: 7 months ago on September 13, 2018
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  • Last Modified: September 13, 2018 @ 1:11 am
  • Filed Under: North County

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