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Teens get down to business at Roosevelt entrepreneurship academy

Posted: 07/10/2014

The time was now or never. In a matter of minutes, three salespeople needed to close a deal with their buyers, or return to their employer empty-handed. That was the role-play scenario presented to a group of Chicago Public Schools (CPS) teens during Roosevelt University’s GreenTeens Entrepreneurship Academy this summer. 

The program, now in its fifth year, welcomed CPS sophomores, juniors and seniors to Roosevelt to experience campus life and gain college-level business expertise for free. In addition, the students networked with entrepreneurs and explored green technology facilities around Chicago. Made possible by a $30,000 grant from Motorola Solutions Foundation, the summer camp was led by Founder and CEO of ImpruvED Shane Scott, who encouraged the students to think inventively and push their limits.

“We want students to walk out of the program feeling successful and realize that a college education is something they can aspire to and do well at,” said Terri Friel, former dean of Roosevelt’s Walter E. Heller College of Business. “We want to give students a personal, transformative week that helps them dream big.”

After completing the sales pitch challenge, the CPS teens exchanged results and discussed selling tactics, business strategy and green technology—all while savoring the view from the University’s 32-story, LEED Gold certified Wabash Building. The teens were provided room, board and training during their rigorous week, and they also enjoyed several opportunities to explore the city with their peers. 

“We’re learning a semester’s worth of business within a week,” said Mary Sophia Golden, a senior at Trinity High School. “It doesn’t seem like work; it just feels creative and fun.” 

At the end of their week, the teens presented business plans to a panel of judges. The winners received a $1,500 tuition scholarship for classes at Roosevelt University. Although not all students who participated in the program will attend Roosevelt, many pursue college and leave the GreenTeens camp with a newfound zeal for business. 

“I wasn’t thinking of majoring in business before this camp, but now I am,” said Corina Vega, an alumna of the program.