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In an inspiring race to the top, 10 business plans from local youth entrepreneurs were presented in front of a panel of judges, lenders, family and friends at the Youth Entrepreneur Business Plan Competition. The program was held at Napa Valley College on Sat., April 27.

One by one, youth from six high school and four college teams took the stage.

It was a highly competitive, multi-layered challenge. Preparation was crucial. The stakes were high at $1,500 for first place college division and $1,000 for first place high school division.

Prize money was provided by sponsor Redwood Credit Union. Mario Gutierrez, Napa branch manager, also served as a judge.

“The competition was very intense,” remarked Gutierrez.

“Everyone was prepared, confident, professional and showed how much dedication and motivation went into their business plans. This is a great program for the future leaders of our community,” he said.

What is the Youth Entrepreneurship Program (YEP)?

The YEP provides training and resources for youth, helping students explore ideas for starting and running a small business. It offers entrepreneurship as a career pathway.

“In the process of learning about business, the students learn skills the workforce is clamoring for,” said Charlie Monahan, director of workforce development.

“Students use creative thinking as they learn how to operate a new business venture. Classrooms are alive with creativity and teamwork. Something magical happens.”

“Working in teams, students embrace their entrepreneurial spirit in finding solutions for real world business challenges. I am grateful my students’ hard work paid off,” said Robert Derbin, professor of Introduction to Business at Napa Valley College.

Yusbi Jimenez won first place in the high school division presenting her business, The Legal Office of Opportunities, that will offer services for immigrants seeking legal documentation and citizenship. Yusbi is a senior at American Canyon High School.

Yusbi says the competition served as a stepping stone in her life. It was fun and she admitted she was very nervous, and expressed her thanks to everyone that helped along the way.

Thaina Innocent placed second in the high school division with Sweets A La Mode—complete with menu and signature brownies for the judges.

“I think the process of planning, multiple drafts and close attention to detail is an important experience to have as a young person,” said high school student Amanda Christopher, who tied for fourth place presenting her business, Art’n’Wine.

“I had a blast organizing the whole thing,” continued Amanda who thanks Marie Bianco, her NVC mentor and Debra St. Clair, her high school teacher.

Karla Aldana tied fourth with ChowPals—dedicated to celebrating the life of animal companions. Fourth place also went to Olivia Bennett presenting American Electric, a business with her father.

Viktoria Medvedeva won second place in the college division presenting her business, Pocket Grabber—a gadget to help you retrieve your parking garage ticket. “I felt very encouraged and supported,” said Viktoria.

“I gained priceless experience and created a business plan that I will pursue further.”

“We are American women who come from Hispanic culture and we believe family comes first!” relayed three young women with notable conviction. Ivonee Sierra, Lydia Carapia and Vaneza Godinez presented their business, Napa Bay Immigration Services for families needing help with immigration paperwork.

“I believe many of the ideas are strong enough to flourish into successful businesses one day,” said Meghan Lucas, judge and past winner with her business, Meghan Lucas Grant Writing and Marketing Services.

“I’ve always been a firm believer of giving back to the community and I was impressed with the creativity of the presenters,” said Cinthya Cisneros, judge and winner last year for her business, La Cheve Bakery & Brews.

“Students learn life skills, discover new ideas and access new resources,” concluded Monahan. “This is the measure of our success!”

Viktoria Medvedeva (second place college) and Yusbi Jimenez (first place high school) were recently interviewed on KVYN sharing their experience in the competition.

For information about the Napa Valley College Youth Entrepreneurship Program, visit facebook.com/NVCYEP or nvcyep.org.

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