Future Builders Challenge 2019 showcases youth potential

The identification, recruitment, development and retention of talent to Lincoln is vital to build on the momentum we have going on in the city. In 2016, Prosper Lincoln began to look at more intentional efforts to better connect high school students to their innovation and entrepreneurial talents. Efforts encouraged them to realize their propensity to be Builders – of economy where none existed before; of businesses, ideas, communities; and a better life for themselves and those around them.

The Future Builders Challenge was born.

This past March and April, 2,000 LPS and parochial high school students were granted the opportunity to take Gallup’s BP10 assessment tool to identify their Builder talents. The top 20% of those students were then invited to a variety of events including an inspiration rally, builder bootcamp and pitch competition. Over the past two years, 6,000 students discovered their inherent talents to build.

The coaching day and pitch competition resulted in a dozen student-led teams competing for cash prizes and a coaching/development/validation experience from Spreetail. Three were chosen as overall winners:

First Place: Team Armadillos
Idea: Cultural Connection, connecting individuals immigrating to the community who want to start a business with local resources, community members, and business leaders/experts.
Team Members: Carson Shenefelt (Lincoln Southeast), Hunter Dupsky (Lincoln East), Elijah Hestermann (Lincoln East), and Vianka Curiel (Pius X)

Second Place: The Thrillers
Idea: Next-Gen, webpage for High School Students that would connect them to jobs and other opportunities for their age (similar to Linked In).
Team Members: Thea Seibel (Lincoln Southwest & Science Focus Program), Elijah Riley (Lincoln High), Jaxson Effle (Lincoln High), and Braden Crosby (Lincoln Southeast)

Third Place: The Flying Pigs
Idea: Local View, (similar to Groupon), would support local businesses by allowing customers to redeem points when visiting the business and then could use those points for vouchers/discounts at local businesses.
Team Members: Olivia Theil (Pius X), Hayley Piippo (Lincoln East), Blake Sayers (Lincoln East), and Ethan Friest (Lincoln Southeast)

Students we also encouraged to apply for the Future Builders Academy, which will take place the second week of June. At the Academy, teams will be formed and ideas built out further for presentation to the greater Lincoln community at the end of that week.

Pre- and post-event research was conducted by Gallup and like last year, the Future Builders Challenge was able to move the needle for a great number of students including optimism for their future; greater awareness and validation of their talents; and overall better appreciation for what it takes to build and grow a successful business.

“The support of the Lincoln community is vital to making this great initiative happen,” said Rich Claussen, PL Ambassador for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. “Businesses, K-12 schools, higher education partners, foundations/funders and of course the coaching/mentoring talents of Lincoln’s burgeoning entrepreneurial and start-up community – without all of this support, Future Builders doesn’t happen.”

Additionally, what was created here in Lincoln is now growing to other parts of Nebraska and the nation. Omaha, Grand Island, Hastings, Kearney, South Sioux City, Denver, Baton Rouge, Indianapolis and Boston all are either doing the Challenge or in the process.