Local university and Detroit church throw pitch competition for youth at faith-based organizations

Pitch competitions are in vogue at the moment. They not only provide a platform for aspiring entrepreneurs to hone their ideas in front of judges, but also opportunities to win much-needed funding and validation. 

But one Detroit pitch competition is distinguishing itself with a fairly unique concept. Lawrence Technological University (LTU) is partnering with Detroit’s Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church to launch what it's describing as the first ever for businesses started by youth at faith-based organizations. 

10 faith-based organizations from across Southeast Michigan will select five youth from their congregations to pitch an idea, which will then be judged by a "Shark Tank"-style panel. Winning teams will receive cash prizes, LTU scholarships, and free business assistance services.

The initiative is funded by the New Economy Initiative in "an effort to spread awareness of entrepreneurship among area youth," according to a press release.

"Entrepreneurship experiences are especially important for today's youth, as they instill key leadership skills, including working in teams, solving problems, strategizing, and presenting," said Maria LaLonde, senior program officer at NEI. 

Each of the teams will take four "boot camp" workshops facilitated by LTU College of Business and Information Technology faculty to prepare for the competition. The workshops will help the youth develop the business idea and hone pitching techniques. 

The final competition will take place in front of a live audience on Thursday, March 7 at the Southfield campus of LTU. Participation in the competition is free. 

To enroll in LTU's pitch competition or for more information, contact Ross Sanders, Lawrence Tech corporate partnerships manager, at [email protected]
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Aaron Mondry is a Detroit-based freelance writer. Visit his website and follow him on Twitter @AaronMondry.