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Tips, mentorship and more for Coquitlam students
School District 43 Grade 11 and 12 students who are interested in developing a business but don't have the faintest idea about how to go about it now can take a course to get tips, support and mentorship.
Called YELL, the Youth Entrepreneur Leadership Launchpad (empowering the next generation of Canadian problem solvers), the new program is being taught by Pinetree business education teacher Debbie Lange with the support of three entrepreneurs and other local business owners.
"I think it's going to really raise the bar and it's going to bring things I've said to life," said Lange, who noted the course is open to all students in the district and will appeal to everyone from tech-savvy teenage would-be entrepreneurs to art students who want to go into business for themselves when they graduate.
• Find out more about the YELL program — the newest Distance Learning opportunity in School District 43 — at a meeting Wednesday, June 11 at 7 p.m. at Pinetree secondary school in Coquitlam.
• You can apply via Coquitlam Open Learning; an application form is available here.
• The YELL website is http://weyell.org.
It's the latest new offering from the SD43's Coquitlam Open Learning department, which also pioneered the Inquiry Hub. Principal Dave Truss is excited about the opportunity for kids to get the latest innovative ideas and mentorship from a team of young entrepreneurs who want to give back to society through YELL, a non-profit.
"I think the most exciting part is that they are going to meet successful business people they wouldn't normally meet," Truss said.
How the course came to SD43 is a networking tale. YELL's founder is a graduate of Vancouver's Gladstone secondary school who is now the CEO of a San Diego-based biotech company — and was once a student of SD43 superintendent Tom Grant.
Punit Dhillon told The Tri-City News that Grant made a difference at the east Vancouver school. "He absolutely was a huge mentor to me personally," Dhillon said. "He really did his best in terms of bringing others around him up."
Now that Dhillon is a successful entrepreneur, along with his colleagues, Rattan Bagga and Amit Sandhu, it was a natural move to bring the program to the workplace of his former mentor.
Students who sign up will meet weekly to learn finance, business law, leadership, social entrepreneurship, communication, presentation skills and idea creation. Then they'll team up with a mentor to develop a business idea that they will pitch in a Dragon's Den-style Venture Challenge judged by leaders in the community.
The program has received positive testimonials on the website from former SD43 principal Chris Kennedy, now with West Vancouver School District, and Dhillon said he's certain it will attract some motivated Tri-Cities students.
"We're Canadians, there are huge problems, big challenges ahead for the next generation," he said. "God forbid we see another social media website or Instagram — there's bigger problems in this world [to solve]."