LAUNCHCincinnati to prepare OTR youth for a life of entrepreneurship

Some kids in Over-the-Rhine dream of being a lawyer, barber or construction worker, but a new nonprofit focused on this Cincinnati neighborhood's youth want them to find a bigger dream: one where they own a barbershop, law office or construction firm.

LAUNCHCincinnati is being developed by friends and former colleagues Galen Gordon and Kimberly Smith, who've spent years as youth volunteers.  Gordon, who works in the hospitality industry, and Smith, a commercial banker, met when they were selling real estate and found they had a mutual passion for helping young people. LaunchCincinnati is the culmination of their joint passion.

The program, which is set for an official launch in the Spring, has three components. The Young Entrepreneur Program is a classroom curriculum where youth aged 12-18 can learn the ins and outs of operating a small business. The curriculum comes from the Warren Miller Freedom Foundation entrepreneur program in Seattle.

 "We have a 10-week curriculum for our kids, who have an entrepreneurial mindset, where they'll learn everything from making a marketing flyer to writing a business plan to owning and operating a business," said Gordon, who lives in OTR. "Our goal is to match the graduates up with a mentor in a like field in Cincinnati, preferably somewhere downtown, where they can do an internship or an apprenticeship."

Supporting that program is LAUNCHCIncinnati's planned Leadership Series and Youth and Finance program designed to educate future leaders who will be confident and competent in handling their money.

The nonprofit is an effort to help youth and families who call OTR home benefit from the ongoing and planned redevelopment in and around this historically struggling neighborhood.

"I live in OTR, and I feel like the youth need positive examples (of entrepreneurship). There is a lot of revitalization going on in Cincinnati, and I want youth who live in the urban core to be part of that," Gordon said. "There is a big concern about people being pushed out of the neighborhood (as part of the revitalization), and we want to give youth the resources to become innovators and entrepreneurs. We can change the dynamics of the urban core."

LAUNCHCincinnati is still seeking volunteers and mentors. The organization is also searching for a permanent place to hold classes. If you are interested in volunteering or offering a space you can reach Gordon by email at [email protected].  

Writer: Feoshia Henderson
Source: Galen Gordon, co-founder LAUNCHCincinnati

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