Native Youth Business Training Nets National Award for Northwest Area Foundation Senior Program Officer
ST. PAUL, Minn. (March 10, 2011) - Isolated, disadvantaged Native youth could walk the career path of budding business owners through a culturally-relevant youth entrepreneur curriculum. Northwest Area Foundation Senior Program Officer Anthony Genia devised the training program as a way for disadvantaged Native adolescents to aspire to be entrepreneurs that create living wage jobs.
Genia’s idea made him one of five winners in the first-ever nationwide Launch Pad contest (http://launchpad.encore.org). The online challenge garnered thousands of votes for his Native American Youth Economic Warrior Project, beating out 20 other finalists from 1,000 submissions. A culturally-relevant business training curriculum, the Project is designed to break the cycle of poverty by training preteen Native Americans in the U.S. economic system and business world.
“Native Americans suffer the highest poverty rates in America. In order to turn that around, we need to reach young people with values-based training by the time they enter middle school,” said Genia. “The Native culture embraces values of generosity and reciprocity, and that sometimes contradicts the concept of individual business achievement.”
Genia, a member of the Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa, will use his $5,000 prize to develop and field test the training based on traditional Native cultural values. Genia believes the project will spur entrepreneurial qualities that fueled successful tribes generations ago. His goal is to make the curriculum available to philanthropic and nonprofit organizations that are working to develop assets and wealth among Native Americans.
“It is amazing the widespread support and interest for Native youth business training. I received e-mails of support from as far away as Massachusetts, New Mexico and Washington,” added Genia.
The Launch Pad contest, sponsored by Encore Careers, aims to help people over age 45 turn creative ideas for solving community problems into working solutions. The public selected the five finalists during a month-long online voting period. In addition to the prize money, winners can tap resources and support from the larger Encore.org community.
Launch Pad is a project of Civic Ventures, a think tank on boomers, work, and social purpose, and sponsor of The Purpose Prize, which invests in five social innovators over 60 each year who are making extraordinary contributions to the greater good. Civic Ventures promotes encore careers – which combine purpose, passion and a paycheck – in many other ways, including advice and resources on Encore.org. To learn more about the award and the other finalists, visit http://www.encore.org/five-winners-launch-pad.
The Northwest Area Foundation is dedicated to supporting efforts by the people, organizations, and communities in Minnesota, Idaho, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Washington and Oregon to reduce poverty and achieve sustainable prosperity. The Great Northern Railway, founded by James J. Hill, served these states. Hill’s son, Louis W. Hill, established the Foundation in 1934. For more information, please visit www.nwaf.org.
Sylvia Burgos Toftness
Northwest Area Foundation
(651) 225-7704 - office
(651) 269-6843 - cell