HARRIS' HEROES

Build helps D.C. students build business skills

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When you step inside "Build D.C.'s" incubator, it's obvious that the students are engaged in what they're doing. Turns out they're not just working on homework, they're running businesses.

Build is a four-year program for at-risk high school students at Eastern, Roosevelt and Maya Angelou public charter school.

The program starts in school with a business class freshmen year. Then, selected students launch their own companies sophomore and junior years.

“It's really built on idea of idea that young person's idea is most powerful vehicle to get them connected to school and be successful in post-secondary education,” says Christopher Brown, the executive director.

The students get funding by pitching venture capitalists to become investors and learn to budget and report back to investors on returns.

“Ninety of our students businesses break even their first year of operation when you compare that to national average of small businesses being started, it's really unparalleled,” Brown says.

But ultimately, the focus is on higher education.

“They really support and really want to push you to do the best you can so you can wind up going to college,” says 10th grader Keion Mitchell.

Staff and volunteers take the students on college visits and help with college applications. Every senior this year applied to college, and half already received acceptances.

“I never would have thought I'd be where I am now: Going to college, getting accepted,” says 12th grader Samantha Washington. “This is surreal and I'm really happy that I've got to have this experience and opportunity.”

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