United Way Youth Venture

United Way of Tompkins County has partnered with Ashoka’s Youth Venture, Lehman Alternative Community School and Dryden Central Schools to implement the United Way Youth Venture program. Ashoka’s Youth Venture program is leading a global movement of young Changemakers™ who are initiating positive, lasting social change. Youth Venture encourages youth to identify a need in their community, apply their interests and skills to develop a solution, and then carry out that solution through their Venture.

Youth Venture continues to inspire and invest in our local youth, empowering them to lead social change and follow their entrepreneurial spirits. Each Venture must have a community benefit, be led by a team of young people, and have a viable and sustainable business plan Through this experience, young people will grow up practicing applied empathy, teamwork and leadership—the underlying skills needed to make change. The students gain skills through the Youth Venture Program that will be utilized throughout the rest of their lives.

Through United Way Youth Venture, young people access a global network of like-minded young Changemakers™ , mentoring from non-controlling adult allies, skill-building workshops and seed funding to help launch their venture.

Check out a past Youth Ventures - "The Honest Beauty Project" here!

 How It Works
•"Dream It Do It" Workshops - Youth work with the United Way Youth Venture team to develop the skills needed to create and implement a Venture. Workshops guide young people through the process of identifying community needs, formulating a solution, setting SMART goals, formatting a simple budget and developing an Action Plan.
•Action Plan– Youth complete a simplified business plan called an "Action Plan". The Action Plan includes SMART goals, project timeline, a simple budget and sustainability plan.
•Community Panel – Youth present their Action Plan to a panel of community members.
To help the students launch their ventures the panelists provide constructive feedback and insight into financial management, planning, leadership and goal-setting. 
•Seed Grants – After review from the Community Panel, Venture teams receive seed funding of up to $1,000 to help them launch their Venture.
•Non-Controlling Adult Mentors - Youth Venture teams are connected with non-controlling adult mentors. Mentors support participants as they plan and implement their Venture, but allow Venturers to lead and manage the Venture.

What is a Venture?
Each Venture must:
•    Be created, led and managed by a team of young people

•    Be a new club, program, etc.
•    Have a community benefit
•    Have a viable and sustainable business plan
•    Be supported by a non-controlling adult mentor

Meet Our 2014-2015 Venture Teams

73 Records – Led by Etienne Grenier and Lachlan Berger, 73 Records is a collective record label dedicated to the production and distribution of youth music, art, and literature.

Animal Care – Led by Marli Hammond, Medina Lojic, Makayla Hoyte, Taylor Burk, Nicole Zhe, Jamie Mullins. As a second year growing venture, it has was created for 6th grade students at Dryden to teach them about proper animal care. 

Computer Science – Dryden Venture led by Jamie Mullins and Tor Wildenstein. The Venture is geared toward engaging and exposing students to the subject of computer science.

Get Real -Led by Francesca Merrick. GetReal! is a curriculum for elementary school students that teaches about gender equality, activism in the face of inequalities, and the negative effects of biases in our media.

Scimedaca – Led by Marli Hammond, Medina Lojic, Makayla Hoyte, Taylor Burk, Nicole Zhe, Jamie Mullins. This venture is in its second year of implementation. The basis of the venture is geared towards 6th grade students to promote their academic success by engaging the students with different learning techniques and organizational skills.

We Are Neon – Led by Esmé Saccuccimorano and Marlena Doerr. We Are Neon is a quarterly publication directed at empowering youth through the showcasing of their art, literature, music, and various innovative endeavors.

Want to Support United Way Youth Venture?

Volunteer Opportunities- Community members can volunteer to lead workshops, work with teams as allies/mentors, serve on Community Panels and more!

Sponsorship- Sponsors can support Youth Venture in a variety of ways, including providing seed funding for teams, stipends for School Champions and programmatic support.  

United Way of Tompkins County Youth Venture is made possible by a generous grant from SimplexGrinnell. Youth Venture is also supported by the Student United Ways at Ithaca College and Cornell University.  

If you are interested in supporting United Way Youth Venture or would like to learn more, please contact Kelsey Rossbach at kstafford@uwtc.org or 607.272.6286.