Inspiring Students to Find “The Entrepreneur in You”

John Hancock’s MLK Summer Scholars workshop at Boston University’s Agganis Arena

John Hancock’s MLK Summer Scholars workshop at Boston University’s Agganis Arena

An important part of excelling in business is being different was the message delivered to 650 Boston-area high school students at Boston University’s Agganis Arena by local entrepreneur and guest speaker Marcel Angol. Angol is the founder and CEO of Society Original Products, a clothing company that got its start out of the back of a truck and today has become a prominent player in streetwear apparel.

The students were attending a morning-long workshop focused on entrepreneurship as part of John Hancock’s MLK Summer Scholars program, an initiative that provides Boston-area teens with meaningful work experience opportunities at almost 80 non-profit organizations throughout the city. These work experiences were augmented by bi-weekly topical workshops and access to EverFi’s online course, Venture: Entrepreneurial Expedition.

John Hancock's Yasmin Cruz delivers an inspiring message to students.

John Hancock’s Yasmin Cruz delivers an inspiring message to students.

The August 1st workshop incorporated lessons learned from EverFi’s course with a theme of Entrepreneurial Expedition. Angol kicked off the day with a rousing speech on how he started his business, as students set off to develop their own business ideas and participate in a business pitch competition. Over the course of the summer, EverFi worked closely with John Hancock’s team to support program implementation and develop the concept for the business pitch competition, the first event of its kind in the EverFi Network.

The competition brought the digital course to life as students applied the skills they learned, such as conducting market research and performing a SWOT analysis to aid in the development of their individual business pitches. The winning business pitch was “Street Smarts,” a technology concept centered around the idea of making communities safer by creating a network of data collection through motion-sensitive street lights, while employing at-risk youth to manufacture and sell the product. The winners were selected by a panel of judges, featuring Angol, Chief of Staff to the Mayor of Boston Daniel Koh, and Boston Globe Reporter Shirley Leung.

EverFi's Steve Sandak addressing the students.

EverFi’s Steve Sandak addressing the students.

The opportunity for the EverFi team to support such a great event was particularly meaningful. We are a company driven by entrepreneurial-minded people who have a bold vision to change students’ lives by providing access to critical skills education. At EverFi, we believe that it is important to instill that same spirit in the students we are fortunate enough to work with through programs such as the MLK Summer Scholars program. The ability to impact students is what inspires us every day.

Regardless of the future career path these students choose, the key concepts that are emphasized through Venture: Entrepreneurial Expedition – such as the importance of innovation and how small businesses can impact the local community — are important for all students to be exposed to. Amy Gaylord, one of the site coordinators for MLK Summer Scholars, best summed up the impact for the students: “The Venture program provided an opportunity for our teens to foster their curiosity and creativity through business—creating a business model for a food truck allowed them to explore their own entrepreneurial abilities and instincts in a fun and risk-free way.”

Special thanks to the John Hancock team who worked to pull off an amazing workshop and for supporting this wonderful, high-impact program.