Taking Back Our Neighborhoods: alt.youth - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Taking Back Our Neighborhoods: alt.youth

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By Ursula Madden - bio | email | Twitter | Facebook

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - A Mid-South non-profit that helps small business owners thrive in struggling communities is reaching out to the next generation of entrepreneurs to Take Back Our Neighborhoods. 

Vonesha Mitchell is a coordinator for alt.youth, a program developed by its non-profit, alt.consulting.

"This is a way to give at risk students a leg up," Mitchell said in a recent interview. "At a very young age, they're given this opportunity to generate some revenue of their own and start a business."

The goal is to teach at risk kids how to start their own businesses.

"They do start up costs, they do income projections, they do market research, they look at their operations they look at their staff,' Mitchell said.

The program takes kids 16to19 years old through a four step program - 130 hours of class time - that ultimately leads to developing a plan, and launching a business.

Bentrail Milow, 18, went through one of two alt.youth pilot programs that operated in Tunica Mississippi last year.

"I started my own customer car washing business," he said.

Milow took the lessons he learned about job skills, credit and debt, money management and marketing, taxes and bookkeeping, and went into business for himself.

"My first job, I was working at a bank in Tunica, Mississippi, washing repossessed cars for the bank owner," Milow said. "That went on for a couple of months until my contract expired.  Now I'm just washing vehicles around the neighborhood."

While the goal is to get the teens to think about becoming entrepreneurs, Vonesha Mitchell believes the kids get so much more.

"Young people who could read better, young people who were not afraid to speak publicly, when at first they were not going to do that.  That was not even up for discussion," she said. "And then their self esteem just skyrocketed, because they had a sense of accomplishment."

Milow says the program was worth all the hard work he put into it.

"It was worth more than the hours I put in," he said. "It's a life learning adventure."

And for this Memphis group of students, the adventure is about to begin.

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