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Future entrepreneurs pitch early childhood product

Coordinated by the Clifton Strengths Institute located in University of Nebraska – Lincoln’s Howard L. Hawks Hall College of Business, the 2nd annual Future Builders Challenge allowed 12 students to dive deep into starting their own business. After learning of the Prosper Lincoln focus area on Early Childhood with the goal of ensuring all children are kindergarten ready, the group focused on how they could create a business that gave young children the best start in school.

Their concept was “Prekrate”, a subscription box for preschool children, filled with activities that would prepare them for Lincoln Public School’s Kindergarten curriculum. The business was modeled on the one-for-one concept that would give a free box to a child in need with every purchase of a full-price box. 

In the one-week intensive immersion program, the group gained hands-on experience conducting market research; creating a business model; prototyping and developing the product; planning the marketing, finance and sales; and finally pitching the concept to mentors who provided feedback.

 “It was incredible to see a group of students from across the Lincoln community all grow more confidently in themselves as well as thrive as a team, in just one week,” said Samantha Kennelly, M.A.
Associate Director of Clifton Strengths Institute. “These students were given the opportunity to embrace the entrepreneurial journey, and along the away, they became more aware of who they are as individuals, team members, and future leaders.”

High school students were chosen for the program based on the Gallup’s Builder Profile 10 (BP10) assessment which measured their aptitudes to become entrepreneurs, innovators and builders.  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.  

Sponsors of the program included: Accelerate Nebraska; Ameritas; Assurity; Bill Cintani; Don’t Panic Labs; Foundation for Lincoln Public Schools; Gallup; Lincoln Community Foundation; Lincoln Industries; Lincoln Partnership for Economic Development; Nelnet; Pixel Bakery; Prosper Lincoln; Spreetail; The Jim and Penny Krieger Family Foundation; and the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.

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