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Future Builders Challenge 2019 showcases youth potential

The identification, recruitment, development and retention of talent to Lincoln is vital to build on the momentum we have going on in the city. In 2016, Prosper Lincoln began to look at more intentional efforts to better connect high school students to their innovation and entrepreneurial talents. Efforts encouraged them to realize their propensity to be Builders – of economy where none existed before; of businesses, ideas, communities; and a better life for themselves and those around them.

The Future Builders Challenge was born.

This past March and April, 2,000 LPS and parochial high school students were granted the opportunity to take Gallup’s BP10 assessment tool to identify their Builder talents. The top 20% of those students were then invited to a variety of events including an inspiration rally, builder bootcamp and pitch competition. Over the past two years, 6,000 students discovered their inherent talents to build.  

The coaching day and pitch competition resulted in a dozen student-led teams competing for cash prizes and a coaching/development/validation experience from Spreetail. Three were chosen as overall winners: 

First Place: Team Armadillos
Idea: Cultural Connection, connecting individuals immigrating to the community who want to start a business with local resources, community members, and business leaders/experts.
Team Members: Carson Shenefelt (Lincoln Southeast), Hunter Dupsky (Lincoln East), Elijah Hestermann (Lincoln East), and Vianka Curiel (Pius X)

Second Place: The Thrillers
Idea: Next-Gen, webpage for High School Students that would connect them to jobs and other opportunities for their age (similar to Linked In).
Team Members: Thea Seibel (Lincoln Southwest & Science Focus Program), Elijah Riley (Lincoln High), Jaxson Effle (Lincoln High), and Braden Crosby (Lincoln Southeast)

Third Place: The Flying Pigs
Idea: Local View, (similar to Groupon), would support local businesses by allowing customers to redeem points when visiting the business and then could use those points for vouchers/discounts at local businesses.
Team Members: Olivia Theil (Pius X), Hayley Piippo (Lincoln East), Blake Sayers (Lincoln East), and Ethan Friest (Lincoln Southeast)

Students we also encouraged to apply for the Future Builders Academy, which will take place the second week of June. At the Academy, teams will be formed and ideas built out further for presentation to the greater Lincoln community at the end of that week.

Pre- and post-event research was conducted by Gallup and like last year, the Future Builders Challenge was able to move the needle for a great number of students including optimism for their future; greater awareness and validation of their talents; and overall better appreciation for what it takes to build and grow a successful business.

“The support of the Lincoln community is vital to making this great initiative happen,” said Rich Claussen, PL Ambassador for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. “Businesses, K-12 schools, higher education partners, foundations/funders and of course the coaching/mentoring talents of Lincoln’s burgeoning entrepreneurial and start-up community – without all of this support, Future Builders doesn’t happen.”

Additionally, what was created here in Lincoln is now growing to other parts of Nebraska and the nation. Omaha, Grand Island, Hastings, Kearney, South Sioux City, Denver, Baton Rouge, Indianapolis and Boston all are either doing the Challenge or in the process.  

Quotes From Our Supporters

Prosper Lincoln is one of the most exciting community engagement and community-building efforts happening in the country.  It’s a real model!

Dan Cramer, Co-founder, Grassroots Solutions, St. Paul, MN

Prosper Lincoln will not only benefit all of your kids and your community; it is also a model for similar efforts around the country, thanks to the leadership of LCF.

Richard Ober, President & CEO, New Hampshire Charitable Foundation; Founder Community Foundation Opportunity Network; Concord, NH

Communities across the US are searching for innovative initiatives to improve economic opportunity and mobility.  We can all learn from the amazing work of Prosper Lincoln!

Brian Collier, Executive Vice President, Foundation for the Carolinas

Prosper Lincoln is breaking new ground in economic revitalization without displacement.

Ellen Shepard, CEO, Allies, Chicago, IL

To see an entire community come together to ensure all Lincoln residents are successful is very inspirational.  Congratulations!

Nancy Van Milligen, President/CEO, Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque, Dubuque, IA

In my regional and national work in community development this is one of the most unique and exciting strategies for true change I have seen!

Del Gines, Senior Community Development Advisor, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City Omaha, NE

Bringing together a multi-sector group of committed Lincoln residents will support prosperity for all.  Congratulations on this excellent collaboration.

Holly C. Sampson, President, Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation, Duluth, MN

Diverse voices from across Lincoln came together so that current and future generations can thrive. This is no small feat, and it’s inspiring to see that collective vision inch closer to fruition. You can consider yourselves a model for other communities starting to embark on this work.

Megan Powers, International Program Officer, The McKnight Foundation Minneapolis, MN

There is no better example of the power of convening than Prosper Lincoln! Bringing together members of the community from all walks of life to enrich the City is inspiring.

Regine Webster, Vice President Center for Disaster Philanthropy, Washington, DC

Prosper Lincoln is creating a national model for building vibrant, equitable and resilient communities.  Systems thinking + the right resources!

Sandy Wiggins, Chair, Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE) Washington, DC

Prosper Lincoln is an important approach to solving community problems. By bringing together local businesses, nonprofits, neighborhoods, government and faith organizations, they are bridging divides, building connections, and sparking opportunities in way that shows true community engagement.

Vikki Spruill, President and CEO, Council on Foundations

This is one of the most impressive community focus efforts I have seen. You are making considerable progress!

Cynthia Hardin Milligan, Trustee and former Chair of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Battle Creek, MI

Lincoln is one of a few cities across America where citizens and leaders from across different sectors have come together to tackle their community’s most complex challenges. Your ability to already show results and persevere is inspiring.

Ben Hecht, President and CEO of Living Cities, Washington, DC

Solving tough national problems like the opportunity gap begins locally, and Prosper Lincoln is leading the way.

Robert D. Putnam, Professor of Public Policy and author, Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis Harvard University, Cambridge, MA

There is nothing more powerful in securing a community’s long-term health than evolving a shared vision through community engagement. Congratulations!

Rip Rapson, President, The Kresge Foundation, Detroit, MI