College readiness program wins top prize at 'I Have a Dream' pitch competition - Technical.ly Delaware

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Jan. 16, 2018 12:46 pm

College readiness program wins top prize at ‘I Have a Dream’ pitch competition

Tatnall sophomore Elijah Jones pitched a program meant to increase the number of African-American men with college degrees.

2018 "I Have a Dream" pitch competition winner Elijah Jones.

(Courtesy photo)

Body image, diversity in education, and safe parties for kids were a few of the topics taken on by the young participants in the second annual “I Have a Dream” pitch competition at 1313 Innovation on Jan. 9.

As part Raising Kings Week, a week of action leading up to Martin Luther King, Jr. Day hosted by One Village, the competition invited African-American youth aged 8–18 to pitch their best project ideas for improving the community.

First-place winner Elijah Jones took home $1,ooo for his idea, Project Increase, a college-readiness program for low income African-American males in Delaware.

“I found that students who come from disadvantaged homes were 30 percent less likely to enroll in highly selective universities,” said Jones, 15. “My idea is an after-school program that would introduce low-income, African-American males in the 7th and 8th grade, who are involved in their community and are goal-oriented, to the top 50 colleges and universities in the nation.”

His proposed project utilizes community resources. “After the completion of my six-week program, I will have my participants apply for a college readiness program called TeenSHARP, which I am also a part of,” he said. “The qualities for my target student are important to me because these are what I saw in myself when I was in 7th and 8th grade.”

Jones, a 10th-grader at the Tatnall School, was a featured speaker at the TEDxYouth@Wilmington Agents of Change event last April, where he spoke about diversity in the education system.

“This opportunity has not just allowed me to start my program financially but it gave me community-wide support,” he said.

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Great News! TeenSHARPie Sophomore, Elijah Jones, won the Raising Kings week 2018’s “I Have a Dream” pitch competition,…

Posted by TeenSHARP Delaware on Friday, January 12, 2018

Second-place winner Alex Sharpe pitched a diversity in education plan to increase the number of Black teachers in Delaware, while entrepreneur Austin Graham came in third with his homemade soap business.

One participant, Adel Davies, whose project focused on body image, volunteered to pitch on the spot.

Joel Amin Jr., the CEO of last year’s winner, Trade Link Pro (which has evolved into WilmInvest), was one of the judges. WilmInvest, co-founded by Bryce Fender and Demetrius Thorn, is an affordable housing venture in Wilmington with plans to turn vacant properties into homes for people struggling with substance abuse, mental illness and chronic homelessness. In October 2017, they received an endorsement from Wilmington City Council and are still going strong.

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