I was recently on a beautiful island, which shall remain nameless at the moment, because it was all about these businesses and these kids.
Business man Dame Dash, Principal Akbar Cook, Queens Deputy Borough President Ebony Young and myself (Chuck “Jigsaw” Creekmur) were all judges of the YES National Business Plan Challenge, where kids from all over the United States convene to present their great business ideas. I was blown away at the sheer genius of our young people. It was so hard to pick the winners this time, because there were so many great concepts.
Dame got a lifetime achieivement award presented by Mr. Ernest Ruffin, and shared a mini Ted Talk. I made it a point to talk to some of the kids after the competition because I could see some were disappointed and others just needed some on-the-spot mentoring. We did not hold back. But don’t let anybody tell you kids are only about entertainment and sports. There’s some truly beautiful flowers coming out of the soil. Trust me.
Ernest Ruffin, Jr. is the Executive Director and founder of Young Entrepreneurz Solutions Organization. Ruff taught entrepreneurship at Rutgers University, but made a pivot in the pandemic. YES mentors kids and helps debunks the prevailing notion that ambitious young people are doing unproductive things. Sorry, every kid is not on demon time or a vsavage. This year, there were teams of teens from California, St. Croix, Houston & Dallas, TX, Newark, NJ and other places over the United States.
Here are some images by photographer El-Boogie.