SIFE partners with Young Detroit Builders for entrepreneurial class

May 21, 2012

SIFE and YDB members pose for a picture together. Photo courtesy of Young Detroit Builders.

Members of University of Michigan-Dearborn’s Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE Dearborn) chapter recently partnered with University of Windsor SIFE to offer entrepreneurial classes to Detroit-area youth.

The program was part of an ongoing partnership with Young Detroit Builders (YDB), a non-profit organization that offers life skills preparations, GED preparation and on-the-job construction training to area young people who have dropped out of school.

“Many people who get certification in construction are entrepreneurs; they go into business for themselves,” said Angela Wilson, interim executive director of YDB. “It makes a lot of sense to have entrepreneurship be a part of that curriculum.”

SIFE members met with YDB participants over an 8-week period to teach basic computer skills and encourage them to develop business plans. Topics covered included Microsoft Office programs, Internet research tactics and entrepreneurship.

“Each student is different, each with a unique story of how they got where they are today,” said Paul Steffey, a SIFE Dearborn member who organized the program. “But the one thing that we saw in everyone was a willingness and eagerness to learn.”

In order to create business plans, students learned how to evaluate their entrepreneurial ideas, conduct market research, market their businesses and assess financial feasibility.

Participants presented their ideas to area business representatives at the conclusion of the program.

Wilson said the program instilled self-confidence in the participants and helped them think about future plans.

YDB participant William Byrd of Detroit, Mich., agreed. “I was taught how to think and work like an entrepreneur, how to navigate through research and how to create a legitimate business plan,” he said.

SIFE members also renovated the YDB computer lab. Students installed a drop ceiling, new lights and carpet, and repainted the walls. They received a $2,000 grant from Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation to complete the work.

“The Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation (LCEF) is proud to partner with SIFE to provide SIFE teams the opportunity to raise the quality of life and standard of living for communities in need through the structural improvement of community, education, municipal, or residential facilities or operations,” said Mike Brown, executive vice president and chief information officer of Lowes.

Steffey hopes the newly renovated computer lab, which includes 12 computers from Computers for Kids, a Windsor charity that seeks to provide access for children and youth, will serve as home base for the program in the future.

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