New Tech projects get financial boost

March 16, 2017


The Journal Gazette

by Ashley Slodoba


After weeks of developing their own small businesses, New Tech Academy students learned Wednesday their ideas are getting a financial boost.

Steve Franks, a board member of Believe in a Dream Inc., presented an oversized check for $1,000 to the afternoon civic studies class.

“Everybody applaud,” he said, prompting an ovation from the seniors.

The funding will be distributed in grants ranging from $25 to $300 to eight teams, whose products include jewelry, kits for teachers, bath bombs and lip scrubs.

Believe in a Dream aims to promote, develop and mentor the city’s youth in three areas, including business education.

For doable ideas, Franks said, it makes sense to give students seed funding so they can make prototypes.

“Let’s help them do it,” he said.

Roberto Medina, 18, said the $150 awarded to his group could help them buy supplies for their business, Beauty & Beast Bundle, and could help them expand their products of handmade bath and beauty products.

He and his teammates – Jessica Sarrazin, 18, and Daisy Phouayvongsa, 17 – have been using their own money, he said. They hope to reimburse themselves and make a profit once they start selling, he said.

Students began working on their businesses in January, said Todd Roberts, who co-teaches the class with Beth Meneely. Some initially had no ideas, he said, and others have changed ideas.

Wednesday represented the program’s midway payday, Roberts said.

The students are preparing for a trade show at the City Exchange in April and will have a chance to earn more Believe in a Dream funding during a “Shark Tank”-style event toward the end of the semester.

Franks, who also mentors the students, encouraged them to make their plans a reality. It’s time, he said, “to start doing.”

Past students, including a group that made natural body products, have continued their businesses after graduation, Roberts said. He noted that Believe in a Dream also supports students who continue working on their businesses after the school year ends.

New Tech Director Emily Oberlin thanked Franks and Jamal Robinson, also of Believe in a Dream, for partnering with the students on this project. It is a great example of what education can look like when the community becomes involved in the learning process, she said.

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