Participants in the Youth Organizations Umbrella summer program showed off their work to the public at Dewey Elementary School in Evanston Thursday night.
While members of the Y.O.U. Fit program displayed the acrobatics moves they’ve been working on all summer, members of the Youth Entrepreneurship Summer program, including 15-year-old Carla Orduno, were presenting their projects.
Orduno said the concept she developed — a non-profit called The Impact Project — would “help teens find places where their talents can be shown and they can have fun while gaining community service hours.”
“The students got feedback from over 50 community business leaders,” Ellen Muench, volunteer and outreach coordinator at Y.O.U. and leader of the entrepreneurship program, said. “They were really passionate about their ideas.”
“The reason I’m passionate about this programming is it’s a way to expose our adolescents to different business paths, just so they know that these career paths are out there,” Muench said.
For Orduno and the other would-be entrepreneurs, their planning led to a final pitch in front of mock investors at Madison Dearborn Partners, where they honed their communication skills.
About 350 students from third to 12th grade participated in free Y.O.U. programs this summer.
Annette Elliot, who taught the architecture program, said that the architecture proposals the students came up with are “very impressive for them being contemporary and innovative.”
Twelve students took part in the architecture program where they were encouraged to be “as imaginative as possible,” Elliot said.
“While the summer could be a time where they otherwise slide back, for our kids, this is actually a springboard forward,” Y.O.U. Executive Director Seth Green said.
Students in a high-quality summer program end the summer five months ahead academically of students who take the summer off, Green said.
“It is essential if we are going to address the achievement gap in our community that all of our kids have access to high quality summer supports and learning, so we’re here to celebrate that,” Green added.