CSU, Chico News

Pennsylvania High School Students Win National Entrepreneurship Tournament: Next Stop, Europe

Date: 05-30-2007

Joe Wills
Public Affairs
Curt DeBerg
Center for Entrepreneurship

Students from Northwestern Lehigh High School in New Tripoli, Pa., took top honors in a national business contest in New York City May 25, impressing the judges with their new parfait and lollipop business. But judges were equally impressed with their global outreach projects in Peru and Nicaragua.

Eight high school teams from six states traveled to New York last 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, Aug. 1-4. SAGE – Students for the Advancement of Global Entrepreneurship – was founded five years ago by Curt DeBerg, a business professor at California State University, Chico.

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

SAGE, staffed by CSU, Chico alumni and students, is now operating in 12 countries. The U.S. competition on Friday was hosted by the accounting firm Deloitte Services LP in Manhattan.

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

The Pennsylvania team’s parfait business earned more than $1,500 in profits in its first year of operation. Bryan Klass, the team’s faculty adviser, said that he was equally as pleased with their community outreach projects. One project included importing Peruvian bracelets from Cuchuma, Peru, with most of the profits going back to the Peruvian village to build greenhouses. This project was one of many that fell under the “Hungry to Help” general theme of this year’s team.

“SAGE gives students the opportunity to apply their classroom knowledge by completing real-world ventures,” Klass said. “All teams were fantastic, and I am proud that Pennsylvania will represent the U.S. in August at the international competition.”

Second place went to last year’s defending national champion from Santa Monica High School in Southern California, while third place went to Benicia High School in Northern California.

The U.S. entrant will compete against teams from Brazil, China, Russia, Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, South Korea, Ukraine and Philippines.

SAGE is a partner with Youth Venture, 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,” DeBerg said.

Keynote speaker and a judge at the May 25 event was Jim Hamel, vice president of Youth Venture. “The SAGE competition is one way to evaluate the success of the youth-created, youth-led organizations,” he said. “It really was terrific to see in person the quality of the teams that SAGE is bringing forth.” Hamel added that he was delighted to see that the top four SAGE teams in the U.S. have become part of the global Youth Venture network.

The main sponsors of USA SAGE are the Allstate Foundation, NUMMI, GotVMail, the Harold and Louis Price Foundation, Wells Fargo and Deloitte Services LP.


For more information about Northwestern Lehigh SAGE, please contact Bryan Klass at (610) 298-8661 x2102, or e-mail him at klassb@nwlehighsd.org. For more information about the SAGE program, contact Curtis L. DeBerg at (530) 898-4824 or email him at cdeberg@csuchico.edu.