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WEOKIE Foundation Hosts BizKid$ Middle School Cooperative Entrepreneurship Competition
Tuesday, December 5, 2017 6:55 AM

WEOKIE BizKid$ Competition

On Oct. 31, more than 70 students from around the state competed "Shark Tank-style" at the University of Central Oklahoma pitching ideas to a panel of local credit union executives, electric cooperative representatives, and entrepreneurs.

The pitches were made to 14 new businesses using the cooperative model. Competitors created songs, commercials, dances, displays, and prototypes in an effort to convince the sharks that their business model was worthy of the top prize. The winning group won $500 for their chosen teacher to apply to classroom supplies and a classroom party of their choice.

This competition was inspired by the nationally syndicated TV program BizKid$ and the teacher lesson plans that accompany each episode. WEOKIE Foundation’s competition will be featured on the BizKid$ website.

The WEOKIE Foundation BizKid$ Middle School Entrepreneurship Program is designed to provide teachers with professional development and to recognize student achievement as they apply their knowledge in personal finance, entrepreneurship, and economics. This program is hosted in cooperation with the Oklahoma Council on Economic Education and the Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives and was made possible through funding from the National Credit Union Foundation and the Cornerstone Credit Union Foundation. Twenty-five organizations were involved in the competition in some capacity.

“WEOKIE is participating in the Cornerstone CU Foundation’s BizKid$ Entrepreneur Contest for the third year this spring," said Brent Rempe, WEOKIE's AVP of credit union development. "After two years in the contest, we saw it as easily replicable and scalable. With the Foundation’s support, we offered a local live competition that provided WEOKIE an exciting opportunity to engage not only other credit unions but also others in the cooperative sector. In addition to financial and entrepreneurial education, our competition includes cooperative education. Through the competition, WEOKIE put into practice cooperative principles 5, 6, and 7 (education, training, and information; cooperation among cooperatives; and concern for the community)."

The WEOKIE Foundation BizKid$ Middle School Entrepreneurship Program took place in three phases. Phase 1 involved teachers and partnering cooperatives attending a teacher training and professional development session on Aug. 29. Award-winning curriculum was demonstrated, and teachers received more than $250 in free personal finance, economics, and entrepreneurship resources.

During Phase 2, teachers provided relevant instruction to students while credit unions and cooperatives helped students prepare their business pitches. Business professionals from credit unions and electric cooperatives partnered with Oklahoma teachers to provide student mentorship.

For Phase 3, each teacher/cooperative team brought about five students to present their idea for a new business. They presented their model to a judges panel of business executives and entrepreneurs at the BizKids$ Cooperative Pitch Competition, which concluded National Cooperative Month. Students also participated in the Cornerstone Credit Union League’s Reality Fair led by Real Solutions’ Paula Upchurch.

BizKid$ CompetitionAfter all votes were tallied, the 2017 WEOKIE Foundation BizKid$ Middle School Cooperative Entrepreneurship Competition champions were YOUniforms and teacher Mary Northcraft from Belle Isle Enterprise Middle School in Oklahoma City. This team was mentored by Sarah Mackey and Ashton Fisher from Energize Credit Union. YOUniforms is a worker-cooperative that makes customized school uniforms with magnetic buttons. Their presentation shared in detail how their cooperative embodies the cooperative principles.

“It was an honor to have the opportunity to mentor bright young students and to assist them in learning the cooperative principles,” stated Sarah Mackey, Energize MSR.

Ashton Fisher, Energize MSR, added, “Assisting the students with their product and ideas was humbling, knowing you can make a difference in someone’s life.”

Both Mackey and Fisher expressed how proud they were of the students and thanked Northcraft for her dedication.

Between the teacher training, mentoring students, judging, and the Reality Fair at the competition, nine credit unions, seven electric cooperatives, two trade associations, one CUSO, three credit union foundations, and three community partners were involved.

Participating credit unions included Allegiance FCU, Communication FCU, Energize CU, Oklahoma Central CU, Tinker FCU, True Sky CU, WEOKIE CU, and University and Community FCU.

Additionally, the competition featured Madison Hopper from Alterna Savings Credit Union in Toronto, Ontario, CANADA, as guest speaker.