More than a year ago, the University of North Georgia (UNG) Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation created a competition to help Forsyth County high school students flex their entrepreneurial muscles while being trained by UNG students.
Although the format has changed, the mission for the innovativeUNG High School Pitch Challenge remains the same. This year’s event will practically take place on February 16 at 6 p.m. If you want to see the free event, you should register in advance. The teams and judges will each be in their own locations and will hold a video conference for the event.
“We are very happy to host this Pitch Challenge for the second time,” said Dr. Mary Gowan, Dean of UNG’s Mike Cottrell College of Business (MCCB). “At the MCCB, community engagement is very important. This event gives us the opportunity to get in touch with the community and develop future entrepreneurs.”
A US Department of Labor grant of $ 1.45 million to Workforce Opportunities Rural Communities (WORC) supports this event and opens the door for UNG to its entrepreneurial efforts on the school system of Dawson, Fannin, Gilmer and Lumpkin counties as well as that Expand the school system of the city of Gainesville. Dr. Ruben Boling, Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at MCCB, is grateful for the opportunity.
“We want to improve the entrepreneurship and skills in our region,” said Boling. “We’re starting at the high school level.”
Each of the seven public high schools in Forsyth County will have a team in the 2021 competition. This year’s event includes mentoring for students from industry professionals, some of whom are UNG alumni who have benefited from the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation while at UNG.
Dr. Valery Lowe, director of Forsyth County Schools college and vocational training, said students and teachers started asking about this year’s event months ago. She values the passion at the high school level and from UNG.
“We hope this becomes part of our work and that our students look forward to it every year,” said Lowe. “We appreciate that UNG took it to the high school level. I think it will definitely take off.”
Bobbi Larson, UNG’s director of economic development and community engagement, said it was exciting to know that the WORC scholarship will allow other school systems to compete in the years to come.
“We saw an opportunity to improve the program and expand it to other communities in our service area,” said Larson. “Improving youth entrepreneurship training is one way of expanding the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the region.”
April Sledge, coordinator of the WORC scholarship program, said the scholarship is also helping the UNG convert part of their entrepreneurship curriculum into K-12 classroom materials that help students develop an entrepreneurial mindset and the professional life desired by employers Develop skills.
“The competition is the first step in the grant,” said Sledge. “We’re really looking forward to getting started.”