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In July 2010, 51.1 percent of Americans between the ages of 16 and 24 years old were unemployed, according to new data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Furthermore, these statistics show that low income youths are the group that has been the most negatively impacted. According to the Child & Youth Well-Being Index, 1 in 5 children live in poverty in the United States. Youth employment is important for the individual to break the disastrous cycle of poverty. Without gaining work experience during these years, youth are more susceptible to dropping out, delinquent behavior, engaging in violence and even teen pregnancy. But when a youth is able to find stable employment, opportunities are presented that will lead to a positive financial change. Another alternative can be low-risk entrepreneurship opportunities that the youth are passionate about. With the growing trend of technology, and it being second nature to this generation, this option may provide hope for these grim times. Is government the only answer to these problems? Can non-profits make social change alone?
With the rise of the B-Corporation and the L3C business entities, social entrepreneurs are providing valuable products and services while adhering to a set of socially responsible principles, and making a substantial social impact. If you throw in a twist of the web with that equation, there’s a lot of untapped opportunities awaiting in the near future. Just think about the billions in revenue companies such as Google, Facebook and others in Silicon Valley generate! If we can expand the web startup culture to urban areas around the country (and around the world for the matter) imagine how much change that can bring…particularly economic independence.
The Need In Local Communities
In addition to the need for more economic opportunity, 1.College students are looking to gain experience in a field of study or passion while attending school. 2. Disadvantaged youth need an outlet of empowerment due to various socio-economic challenges they face. 3. There’s a huge lack of African American, Hispanic, and Women new media entrepreneurs (while being the highest consumers of new media) 4. Local businesses and aspiring talent need dedicated support and consultation on how to effectively use the web to gain exposure. 5. Local residents want to explore their communities, connect with like-minded people, and save money on their purchases. 6. Local wealth is being sucked out of neighborhoods by non-domestic corporations. This leads to less funds circulating in local communities. Currently, no organization exists to tackle these problems as a whole. We intend to fill this huge gap.
Web startup incubators, which are highly concentrated in California, have created significant amounts of wealth for young people throughout the past several years. Young entrepreneurs bring their idea to the incubator, and the incubator provides capital, connections, and resources to build a working prototype of their web app in exchange for a small percentage of equity. A good example is Y-Combinator, which had aboard a startup that sold for $200+ Million.
Here’s a great blog post that explains the opportunity incubators/accelerators represent http://ow.ly/3N3WS) Our organization wants to bring a similar model with a new media focus to urban areas throughout the country, create opportunities for college students and disadvantaged youth, and provide value to local communities via our student-driven, grassroots, niche web properties. With local advertising revenues expected to reach $144.9 billion in 2014 according to BIA/Kelsey — and more and more dollars are shifting away from traditional media toward digital media buys, this creates huge opportunity for local entrepreneurs to tap into this growing trend. Companies such as Google, Groupon, AOL, and CNN recognize the location-based services trend and they are aggressively penetrating this market. With all the open source and low cost solutions around today, the barriers to entry for creating a web startup are little to none. We intend to capitalize off this emergence and show the youth in urban areas how to do so as well.
We are a student-driven grassroots new media incubator that is a for-profit organization with a non-profit soul. Our mission is to help end youth poverty, promote diversity, and be an outlet for the youth to pursue their passions via the World Wide Web. How do we do that? We create student-driven, grassroots, niche social networks & mobile apps that connect like-minded individuals, and help local businesses and aspiring talent reach their full marketing potential. Our goal is to creatively merge the web with the real world in local communities. Instead of waiting for young entrepreneurs to present us with web startup ideas, we create and build web startups ourselves and plug college students into low-risk entrepreneurship opportunities they have a passion for within our portfolio of web properties. In exchange for helping us run the sites, we will share 30% of our profits with them. (Worker Cooperative Influenced). After 4 years of working with us, we will help them create their own “web startup for good”. To create more wealth in local communities, we’re developing a local complementary currency for our users to access our products, services, and events, and to facilitate more trade among local residents as well. Imagine a locally-based Facebook Credits that’s used online & offline, and you’ll get the idea. (The goal is to fill the the lack of US Dollars in local communities - Learn More About Complementary Currencies: http://ow.ly/3N5a2)
We will also donate 30% of our profits to our non-profit program entitled, UPSEF (Unified Potential Social Entrepreneurship Fund), which teaches disadvantaged youth important life and business skills such as : Life Skills ● Personal Finance ● Effective Communication ● Time Management ● The Art of Persuasion ● Social Skills ● Natural Health
Business Skills ● New Media ● Internet Technology ● Social Entrepreneurship Once they develop an idea for a socially-conscious web startup, we’ll provide the capital, connections, and resources to help them become successful. Our model is similar to AOL’s; not in terms of providing web access, but in terms of producing niche web properties, the focus on local, and having an investment arm. What separates us is our focus on making social change, being student-driven, and merging the online world with the real world. (Learn about AOL’s model: http://ow.ly/3N5ma) We follow a new economic model/social movement based on Collective Economic Empowerment via the web called Producism. (Learn more at producism.org)
Gandhi said “Poverty is the worst form of violence.” If you think about it, most crime stems from the lack of funds in local communities. By combining new media and local complementary currencies, and replicating the system worldwide, we have the opportunity to end poverty and money-related crime, create a sustainable world, weave local communities back together, and create a new paradigm shift that’s focused on abundance instead of scarcity. Thousands of years ago, the Fertile Crescent created a huge spark of self-sufficiency for hunters and gathers. Today, the Internet is “The New Fertile Crescent”, and has the opportunity to close the huge wealth gap that exists in the world if applied in the right manner. (Only 400 people in America own as much wealth as 155 million Americans)
Imagine a world where everyone experiences ownership in a career path they have a passion for (so they’re happy and self-sufficient) while having a “Pay-It-Forward” type system in place so future generations and the less fortunate can experience the same opportunity. Imagine a world that encourages sustainability, social justice, local social relations, collaborative production, and social media utilization. Some people may call us crazy for thinking we can change the world in this way. But as Margaret Mead so eloquently stated..”Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."