02/19/2013 01:17 pm ET Updated Apr 21, 2013

From Participant to Entrepreneur Facilitator -- YouthBiz Evolution to a Entrepreneurial Powerhouse

By Robyn Jackson -- former youth participant to entrepreneur facilitator.

I remember walking through YouthBiz's doors in my idea of proper interview attire. Nerves
controlled the jitters in my hands and the sweat on my brow. Smiling faces soon eased some of
those nerves, and then I experienced something life changing. This was not only my first "job"
interview; this experience was truly unique because a peer was interviewing me. I was looking
into the eyes of a young woman who was in the same grade, same ethnicity, and literally lived a
few blocks from me. At that moment, I saw an opportunity to gain respect, power, and authority
as a youth, and I wanted to experience that. I am proud to say that I am an alumnus of YouthBiz;
attending the program in the late '90s.

As I said before my journey through YouthBiz's summer program was life changing. I not only
learned to be a leader through heading activity sessions for camps, but also being a leader in my
group by working through peer conflict. The program faced funding challenges and we traded
our paychecks for the experiences and computers. I point this out to highlight the persistence
among the staff. They demonstrated their dedication to youth empowerment by overcoming
funding challenges. This year I walked into a new and improved YouthBiz. Ironically, I returned
in my interview attire, ready to interview and facilitate a lesson for the Aspiring Entrepreneur
Facilitator position. My nerves were eased with the smiling faces of youth that greeted me with
firm handshakes and direct eye contact.

As one of the Aspiring Entrepreneur Facilitator, I had the opportunity to interview our current
participants. I saw the same nerves among the youth when they interviewed, which I hope I
eased with smiles and positive reinforcement. They have a similar opportunity as I did, where
they demonstrate and gain leadership skills. Yet, I feel they are receiving a little more than what
I did! I say that with a smile because they are empowering themselves through ownership. They
are learning to become an entrepreneur and gaining self-worth! That is something a "job" cannot
give you. Our youth are learning about their strengths, skills, and how to use those to create
their own future. I am proud and excited to see the growth and success among all of the young

YouthBiz has served over 5,000 youth and they have earned over $1.5 million dollars in performance based stipends.

Support YouthBiz via the JobRaising Challenge by clicking here.