CSU, Chico News

High School Students Compete in National Entrepreneurship Tournament

Date: 05-18-2007

Joe Wills
Public Affairs
Curt DeBerg
Center for Entrepreneurship

More than 80 high school students from six states will be traveling to New York next week to try to become the USA SAGE champion and earn an invitation to represent their country at the SAGE World Cup in Odessa, Ukraine.

SAGE—Students for the Advancement of Global Entrepreneurship—was founded by California State University, Chico business professor Curt DeBerg and hosts events organized in part by CSU, Chico business students and alumni. “I have an incredible staff of business students who volunteer for SAGE as part of their commitment and dedication to youth entrepreneurship and social responsibility,” DeBerg said. “By serving while they’re learning, this is service-learning at its best.”

High school teams are judged on entrepreneurship, community outreach, civic engagement, environmental responsibility, use of college mentors and use of a business advisory board. Following a presentation, judges ask questions of the student presenters.

The USA SAGE program will conduct its fifth annual national tournament on Friday, May 25. It will be hosted by the accounting firm Deloitte Services LP at Two World Financial Center in New York.

Last year’s national champion is a team from Santa Monica High School in Santa Monica, Calif., which went on to take first place honors at the World Cup in Shanghai. The Santa Monica team again placed first in this spring’s California regional tournament, and will defend its national title in New York.

The Santa Monica team’s newest student entrepreneurship project is a venture known as the “Green Machine Salad Cart,” an on-campus eatery that promotes healthier eating among students. As part of their social entrepreneurship activities, the Santa Monica team taught middle school students the importance of social responsibility and ethics.

For the 2007 national championship, teams from California, Idaho, Nebraska, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania will be making oral and written presentations to a panel of judges. The students will describe their entrepreneurial and social ventures that they started and operated during the past year.

National competitions similar to the New York event are taking place this spring in Brazil, China, Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Ukraine, Philippines and South Korea. Each country’s winner advances to the SAGE World Cup in Odessa July 31-August 4. DeBerg said he and five CSU, Chico students—Blake Garcia, Stephanie Lira, Lauren Foster, John Sphar and Gennifer Rose—will be traveling to Odessa to help put on the event.

SAGE is a partner with Youth Venture, which is an Arlington, Va.-based international youth organization that promotes social entrepreneurship. “Our partnership with Youth Venture allows us to provide start-up capital of up to $1,000 for any U.S. high school SAGE team,” said DeBerg.

Among the speakers on May 25 will be Jim Hamel, vice president of Youth Venture. “I see SAGE’s mission as a wonderful complement to Youth Venture in that SAGE helps to empower young people by providing them the tools necessary to create civic-minded organizations, clubs or businesses,” Hamel said. “The SAGE competition is one way to evaluate the success of the youth-created, youth-led organizations. I am pleased to see that many of the SAGE teams, which consist of young, socially minded entrepreneurs, have become part of the global Youth Venture network.”

One of this year’s California SAGE judges was Kathy Bihr, executive director of the Tiger Woods Learning Center. “I was so impressed by the caliber of the presentations and the projects implemented by these young people,” Bihr said. “Their creativity, passion and enthusiasm for what they are doing is simply inspiring.” The main sponsors of USA SAGE are the Allstate Foundation, NUMMI, GotVMail, the Harold and Louis Price Foundation, Wells Fargo and Deloitte. Beth Gorley, who represents The Allstate Foundation in California, said, “This program aligns with Allstate’s goal to make economic resources and knowledge accessible to the community. By teaching financial literacy and economics to youth, they will be empowered to make informed decisions regarding their financial security throughout their lives.”

Note: The media are invited to interview members of the defending USA SAGE champion team from Santa Monica on Thursday night, May 24, between 6:30 to 9:00 pm at the Essex World Café, 112 Liberty Street, New York, NY 10006. Media are also invited to interview the winning SAGE team at 7:00 pm on Friday, May 25, in the lobby at the Marriott Financial Center Hotel, 85 West Street, NY 10006. They will also be available Saturday morning. To arrange an interview, contact Rob Best at 909-489-1369.