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Young Entrepreneurs Academy


Business partners and students who participated in the Young Entrepreneurs Academy were recognized by the Board of Education. With Board President Stephanie Duckmann, are from left, Eric Enskat, Clear Pay FS; Karina Pittro, Kayla Linse, Sharon Lynch, Century 21 Elm Realtors; and Martin Gardner, Des Plaines Chamber President and Village Bank & Trust.

The District 62 Young Entrepreneurs Academy class of 2015 includes students who developed a bendable scoop, a nail art company, and a company that makes attachable pockets.

The middle school students and their business mentors were recognized by the Board of Education for their accomplishments June 15. Ann Kalena, owner of Dry-it! Herb Dryers; Sam Hooson, owner of Skyline Smokehouse; Riley Whittenhall, owner of Gossip Girls Nail Art; Karina Pittro, owner of Presto! Pocket; Kayla Linse, owner of Nailed-it!; Juhi Soni, owner of Scootle; Alan Arzimendi, owner of Iso-Typical Tutoring; Casey Fitzgerald and Ethan Giovanni, owners of Slap Stick Hockey participated.

The academy students met once a week over six months, and each student developed a product or business. They worked with mentors, learned from guest speakers and took field trips to local businesses. The students wrote a business plan and a marketing plan for their product or business and then presented it to an investor panel made up of Chamber of Commerce members.

Chamber members invested a total of $6,000 in the businesses developed by students. Barbara Ryan, Executive Director of the Des Plaines Chamber of Commerce, received a special award for making this three-year program possible. Business partners included Brian Schuster, BMO Harris Bank; Sharon Lynch, Century 21 Elm Realtors; Eric Enskat, Clear Pay FS; Rosemary Argus, Des Plaines Community Foundation; Jeff Lakemacher, Fifth Third Bank; Mark Lewandowski, Lewandowski Family Foundation; Steve Pokrak, Millennium Bank; Dr. Colette Hands, Oakton Community College; Ed Domingo, Rivers Casino; Kamar Henry, Sam’s Club of Des Plaines; Martin Gardner, Village Bank & Trust; and Agnes Laton, Village Bank & Trust.



Young Entrepreneurs Compete for Business Funding – A love of figure skating, Lacrosse, and skiing, coupled with a sister who plays hockey, prompted sixth grader Joanna Skopura to design a drying rack that refreshes sports clothing. Her product, business plan, and presentation made her the big winner at the Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA) panel that was held last night (March 25) at Club Casa.

YEA! is a business entrepreneur after-school activity sponsored by the Des Plaines Chamber of Commerce & Industry in partnership with the Des Plaines Community Foundation, Rivers Casino, Oakton Community College, BMO Harris Bank, Lewandowski Family Foundation, Millennium Bank, Village Bank and Trust and School District 62. Middle school students who attend School Disgrict 62 get a chance to learn about the process of establishing a business, receive professional mentoring and have the opportunity to receive funding for their business.

Skorupa's plan for her company Rapid Reek Ridding Rack, an easy to assemble drying rack made of PCP pipes and inflators, was chosen as the big winner by a panel of professional investors. The panel chose to award $2,000 to Skorupa, who is a sixth grader at Chippewa Middle School. As the top winner, Skorupa will take her presentation to the national competition in Frisco, TX next month. All of the student businesses received some funding based on their presentation and how well they met the criteria set forth by the panel.

The investor panel was made up of several local business people including: Rosemary Argus, Executive Director, Des Plaines Community Foundation; Ed Domingo, Vice President of Finance, Rivers Casino; Dr. Carlee Drummer, Executive Director of College Advancement and Executive Director of the Educational Foundation, Oakton Community College; Sandra Hansen, Vice President, Branch Manager, BMO Harris Bank; Bob Lewandowski, Lewandowski Family Foundation; Steve Pokrak, Controller, Millennium Bank; and Agnes Czerech, Vice President, Branch Manager, Village Bank of Trust.

The Des Plaines Young Entrepreneurs Academy is taught by Sharon Lynch, Century 21 Elm Realty; and Martin Gardner, Village Bank and Trust, and managed by Barbara Ryan, Des Plaines Chamber of Commerce & Industry. The program begins each fall and concludes with spring activities, such as the investor panel. There is a fee for participation in the program. Students hear speakers, meet mentors and go on field trips all outside of the school day.

The 2014 YEA student businesses include:
Stylish Protectors – basketball/indoor sports shoes – Daniel Baumhart, Chippewa Middle School, 6th Grade
Glamour Girls Parties - party service for girls ages 5-8 – Katy Anderson, Chippewa Middle School, 6th Grade
Klay King - custom order 3D statue manufacturer – Joe Congelosi, Chippewa Middle School, 6th Grade
Nova Custom Web Design – web design and management- Varun Nair, Chippewa Middle School, 8th Grade

Now, students prepare for a regional trade show that will take place on from 8:00 AM-1:00 PM, Saturday, May 17, at Woodfield Mall.



Over the course of the year, YEA! students will become business owners by brainstorming a business idea, writing a business plan, filing the business with government agencies, pitching the plan to investors, obtaining funding, and actually selling their product or service! Start as a student, and finish as the CEO of your own company!

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For more information, please call Barbara Ryan at 847-824-4200 or email bryan@dpchamber.com.

Des Plaines Chamber of Commerce
1401 E. Oakton
Des Plaines, IL 60018

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Leon Smaage
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777 East Algonquin Road
Des Plaines, IL 60016-6281
847-824-1136