Students at an Ozone Park Catholic school got the chance to pitch their ideas and help raise funds for five social issues they care about in front of members of the law firm Reed Smith, L.L.P., at their offices in Midtown Manhattan, during a social entrepreneurship venture showcase.
Five groups of middle-schoolers from St. Elizabeth Catholic Academy used their entrepreneurial skills to try to raise money for projects they would like to create to tackle a wide variety of issues that students face including coping with stress, obesity, protecting the environment, helping students to feel more secure, and promoting financial literacy.
The MiddyFund — a nonprofit organization focused on promoting youth innovation — hosted the event on April 5, where the students not only pitched their ideas, but also showed off their projects for the crowd.
“You’re never too young to make a difference,” said Revana Rahman, executive director and operations manager at MiddyFundInc. “The idea of MiddyFund is to promote youth innovation.”
The projects that the students pitched included FitFix, an app that was designed to encourage today’s kids to exercise and eat healthier.
The Purifiers aim to “be the solution to pollution,” through their collection and repurposing of plastic water bottles.
While the group called SelfSecure is hoping to develop an app that will help kids, teens and adults feel safe in their neighborhoods through a voice-activated command that will enable their cellphones to contact the police and their families if they find themselves in distress.
Another project pitched by the students was StressPress, an online platform that allows users to communicate with others who are dealing with the same or similar issues as a way to cope with stress.
Lastly, At My Business Bank wants to increase financial literacy through the development of an engaging board game that teaches money management.
“The MiddyFund event was a great event for children my age,” said Arianna Gordon, an eighth-grader at St. Elizabeth. “I loved every second of it. Hope to do it again.”
The MiddyFund plans to bring the student innovators to present their projects at Harvard University in May.
“This was a great experience, and I learned so much about MiddyFund’s roots,” said Neftali Parache, eighth-grader. “I can’t wait for Harvard.”
“It’s great to work with the team from MiddyFund and develop a program that has obviously engaged all the students and empowered them to work cooperatively to address issues they face daily, utilizing entrepreneurial skill sets,” said Joseph Sawe, chairman of the board for St. Elizabeth Catholic Academy. “We look forward to partnering with them for many years to come.”