Basketball, Business and a Plan B -- Co written by Melina Bixler Director, of Entrepreneurship Education and Aspiring Entrepreneur Da'Vion
"To me being an entrepreneur means putting your mind to something you're passionate about," Da'Vion says to me in the car as we drive to his basketball game. " And of course my passion is basketball!" Da'Vion lives, breathes and loves everything to do with basketball. "When I play basketball it's like I'm free. To me basketball is freedom."
A few days before his 17th birthday, Da'Vion and I met to talk about his experience in the Aspiring Entrepreneurs program at YouthBiz. "I want people to hear my story, know my story and what I've been through" he insists.
Da'Vion's story is not for the faint of heart. By the time he was 12 years old, he had already been in and out of eight foster homes and several different schools, battling a history of child abuse and neglect. But, like many of our young entrepreneurs at YouthBiz, the circumstances of Da'Vion's childhood do not define him. "When I look back on my life I realize I could be in so many bad places right now but I never gave up and I decided to push forward and keep my head up and think about what I really wanted to do with my life."
Da'Vion's unwavering perseverance paired with his passion for the game made him a perfect fit for our after school program. Aspiring Entrepreneurs is designed to help urban youth discover and develop their life-long entrepreneurial potential by concentrating on the building blocks of success - personal ownership, leadership, professional skills development, financial management and entrepreneurial thinking. "(The Program) taught me how to save more, how to budget, how to count up my expenses, how to use my networks and I gained confidence. I know how to do a business pitch to perfection," he tells me confidently.
Learning how to think and act like and entrepreneur is the cornerstone of our Aspiring Entrepreneur program but I also wanted my after-school classroom to be a safe space where our young people had the support they needed to heal from their past while looking towards the endless possibilities of their future. "We started to get to know each other and become sort of like a family" he remembers. "Looking around I saw a lot of young people just like me who have big goals and a lot of ambition. They wanted to change the world, and to see them put into a room with ME, that's just amazing!" While in our program Da'Vion made a connection to entrepreneurship not only as a potential career but also a life-long problem solving strategy. "I know how to put my mind to things -- and that's what makes me an entrepreneur."
Da'Vion's success story is still being written, but, after investing over 100 hours in our 15 week Aspiring Entrepreneurs program Da'Vion was ready to pitch his idea for combining his passion of basketball with his newly developed entrepreneurial mindset to the public.
"I came up with an idea for headbands and sweatbands that say something inspiring so that people remember why they play the game. I want to bring the passion, heart and spirit back to the game." Da'Vion's pitch was a success, garnering accolades and recognition from a diverse audience of parents, advocates, donors and his peers.
As with most of our Aspiring Entrepreneurs, this business is a step towards success. For Da'Vion, he holds his dream close of playing college ball and then heading off to a successful career in the NBA. But, understanding that dream sometimes change unpredictably, Da'Vion values his experience in the Aspiring Entrepreneurs program in the following way, "If you go to YouthBiz and learn how to be an entrepreneur, then you'll always have a plan B.".
More about the Aspiring Entrepreneurs Program at YouthBiz
Aspiring Entrepreneurs helps youth discover and develop their life-long entrepreneurial potential by concentrating on the building blocks of success -- personal leadership, professional skills development, financial management and entrepreneurial thinking. The curriculum used is dynamic, rigorous and aligned to national entrepreneurship education standards.
•Introduction to Entrepreneurship
•Personal Financial Management
•Connection with entrepreneurship as a potential career and life-long problem solving strategy
•Development of strong interpersonal, professional, and technological communication skills
•Completion of a personal, professional, and academic success road map
•Preparation for effectively managing financial resources to support personal success
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