CSU, Chico News

California High Schools to Compete in Global Social Enterprise Competition

Date: 04-24-2008

Joe Wills
Public Affairs
Curt DeBerg
College of Business

Student teams from 17 high schools across California will compete in the sixth annual Students for the Advancement of Global Entrepreneurship (SAGE) tournament in Sacramento this Saturday, April 26. The top four teams advancing from the preliminary round will repeat their multimedia presentations before a panel of over 120 leaders from academia, nonprofit organizations and the business sector, who will judge in the afternoon.

The program’s founder, Curt DeBerg, a business professor at California State University, Chico, said that SAGE is successful because of its similarity to sporting events. “Just like when high school teams compete inter-scholastically on the sporting fields, the SAGE structure allows high school teams to compete with other schools based on the creativity of their socially-responsible businesses.”

High school SAGE teams will be judged on entrepreneurship, community outreach, civic engagement, environmental responsibility, use of college mentors and use of a business advisory board. Following a 15-minute presentation, the judges will challenge the presenters for five minutes as they ask questions relating to the project criteria.

The top two teams at this year’s event will represent California in Cincinnati, Ohio, to participate in the SAGE USA tournament May 23-24. The winner of that competition will represent the United States in Abuja, Nigeria, at the SAGE World Cup in July.

“All of the presentations I witnessed last year were outstanding,” noted Charles Toney, a retired manager from NUMMI in the Bay Area. “The top team last year was from Santa Monica. These students ran a store called the Vikes’ Inn and Café, and I was amazed to see that they earned over $20,000 of net profit. This is hands-on learning at its best.” Toney noted that some the profits are used to provide scholarships, while the rest is reinvested in the store.

SAGE’s chief operating officer, Robert Best of Marina del Rey, explained how SAGE links businesses with youth through social enterprise. Best said, “SAGE offers all businesses an opportunity to connect directly with high school youth. Examples of SAGE’s global impact include projects ranging from the planting of 1 billion trees in Nigeria, to fighting the spread of malaria in West Africa, to the restoration of local wetlands in Santa Monica, and to the bridging of the world’s only divided nation through the creation of a new Home Networking technology in South Korea.” He added, “Through SAGE, businesses can leverage their human capital by becoming involved with these high school students, whose actions are literally making the world a better place.”

Among this year’s judges will be Jim Rudd, CEO and principal of Ferguson Wellman Capital Management, Inc., of Portland. Rudd also is chair of the board of directors for the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco Portland Branch and honorary consul to Romania for the State of Oregon. “SAGE is the kind of program I’d like to see started in Oregon and Washington,” he said.

One of last year’s judges was Katherine Bihr, executive director of the Tiger Woods Learning Center Foundation. “I had such a great time and was thoroughly impressed with the students and their business ideas. It really warmed my heart,” Bihr said. She plans to enter a SAGE team from the Tiger Woods Learning Center in next year’s tournament.

SAGE California main sponsors this year are Bank of the West, The Allstate Foundation, GotVMail and the Elks National Foundation.

The media is invited to observe the final round of competition and the awards ceremony between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. at the Sacramento Marriott, Rancho Cordova, 11211 Point East Drive, Rancho Cordova, Calif. For more information, please e-mail cdeberg@csuchico.edu or call 530-520-7370.

For Sacramento-based media: Sacramento area high schools that will be participating include Roseville, Highlands and Vanden High School (Vacaville).