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Another Year of Youth Entrepreneurship

By Amara Kniep
NetWork Kansas

Thomas Co 5

In June, NetWork Kansas wrapped up the 2018-2019 season of the Youth Entrepreneurship (YEC) Series with our third annual YEC Summit. This was the sixth year of the program and the most successful yet! Across our state, 48 communities organized and/or sent students to compete in 40 local youth entrepreneurship competitions. A total of 865 students participated. Participation numbers have grown each year, an indication of how valuable this program is to students and communities. Out of the YEC Series have come many impressive student success stories, which you can browse here.

In addition to the success of our YEC Series, this year’s Kansas Entrepreneurship Challenge (KEC) state championship, hosted by K-State University, was also wildly successful. K-State did a fantastic job making the day impactful for students, with an elevator pitch portion and a mock boardroom presentation. The mock board room is basically an extension of the four-minute presentation required at the local level, where judges get to take a deeper dive by asking follow up questions to finalists. As a result, students receive more mentorship and personalized feedback from judges.

1st Place - Akers Auto Restoration

The third annual YEC Summit was also hosted at K-State on June 27th and was an incredibly insightful and fun day! As the organizer of this event, it’s a blast for me to see it all come together. I truly enjoy engaging with the partners and teachers, and watching them learn from each other. The exchange of best practices and new ideas is truly impressive. It’s an honor for us at NetWork Kansas to see how much dedication to this program exists across our state. For so many to travel far distances to spend the day with us speaks volumes.

I am so excited about the upcoming 2019-2020 YEC Series. It will be my third year leading this program, and at the beginning of each season I look forward to seeing how all the communities will grow and what they each will do. We are anticipating around 50 competitions this season and close to 1,000 students participating. If that doesn’t excite you, I don’t know what will!

To top it all off, NetWork Kansas is working with a local entrepreneurial company, Moonbase Labs, to expand our on YEC Portal by developing the Entrepreneurship Competition Management System (ECMS). The YEC Portal was developed as a one-stop-shop for planning a YEC Series event from start to finish, with numerous resources such as templates, examples, scorecards, etc. On its current platform, the Portal has some limitations which the ECMS will be able to overcome. The ECMS will include a complete competition planning timeline and will able to serve any type of entrepreneurship competition.

Of course, none of this would be possible without the amazing partners, teachers, and students that work with us on this program. I’m very excited to see what this new season brings!