Over the past few years, Driven Youth Invitational has become one of Junior Achievement of Lincoln’s most talked-about programs. When our area’s best and brightest high school students are matched up with our most successful and innovative entrepreneurs, magic happens! But DYI takes place over the course of several weeks, making it difficult for students in some of our outlying areas to make the trip every week. So this year, we attempted an experiment– what if we crammed an entire session of DYI’s inspiration, information, education, and motivation into one jam-packed day?
The result was JA Spark, which took place on October 28th at Kaplan University in Lincoln. Nearly 60 high school students from Lincoln, Waverly, Dorchester, and Ashland heard from entrepreneurs including Nick Bock, CEO & Founder of Five Nines Technology, Steve Maly, Founder of Maly Marketing, Angela Garbacz, Founder and Owner of Goldenrod Pastries, Blake Lawrence and Adi Kunalic, Co-founders of opendorse and hurrdat, and Mailani Veney, Owner of Deal Any Day. The ideas for original business plans were flying fast and furious, and the students really wowed us with their creativity! At the end of the day, students had the opportunity to pitch their ideas to an impressive panel of “sharks”: Randy Bretz, creator of TEDxLincoln, Jan Bretz, Speech Coach, Collin Caneva Founder AMPT Now, Ryan Whitney, Cardiologist and Co-Founder of Together Clinic, and Heath Roehr, VP at Powderhook.
We have so many people to thank for making this amazing day possible! Randy Kinney from IntoMetal was our board chair for this event and our all-day host, and we are so grateful for all that he does for our students. Kaplan University was, as always, a wonderful and generous host. All our speakers and panelists served as a reminder to our students that there are adults in their community who are truly invested in their success, and are willing to give of their time to support them. And to all the educators from all over Southeastern Nebraska who helped us pack the room with students who would benefit from this spark of inspiration– we so greatly appreciate your time and support!
We can’t wait to see what future success stories this amazing day was able to Spark!