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Dons Net Café Students Make Successful Pitch at Business Plan Competition

On June 1, Dons Net Café students were selected as high school division finalists for the statewide competition “Get a Taste of Success” Business Plan Pitch Competition.

The finals will be held June 19 in Sacramento at the Small Business Summit. The summit will also be simulcast at 10 community college locations around the state, so as to increase the breadth of competition, discussion panels and roundtable discussions.

In the preliminary rounds, which were open to the nine educational regions of California, the Santa Barbara High team placed in the top three. This score secured them a trip to the state Capitol, and they are already guaranteed a $500 prize along with a package of business services. They will compete for the first-place prize of $2,000, which also includes a one-to-two minute explainer video for their business ($825 value), scriptwriting, four hours of HD videography and editing/motion graphics.

The students will present their newest venture, “Finding Common Ground,” by giving a 10-minute presentation, showing a two-minute elevator pitch video and answering questions from a panel of judges for five minutes.

Finding Common Ground is a partnership with Escuela Agricola de San Francisco, located in Asunción, Paraguay. It was inspired by the idea that students from different countries can come together to construct a profitable business, all while developing friendships, respect and the ability to solve individual and mutual social, environmental and business problems.

By all accounts, it has been a banner year for the students of Dons Net Café. They received first place in the Scheinfeld New Venture Challenge, a perfect score on their IRS audit, received a top nonprofit rating and earned second place at UCLA’s Project ECHO. Faculty advisor Lee Ann Knodel was also named the Chip Goodman Entrepreneur Teacher of the Year.

The Dons Net Café, a Regional Occupational Program of the Santa Barbara County Education Office, is a group of 11 student-run businesses that represents a 22-year commitment to inspire students to create positive social and environmental change through ethical commerce and service learning. The slogan of the Dons Net Café is “Doin’ Some Good in the World.” In this two-period class at Santa Barbara High School, students practice “real life” entrepreneurial skills through hands-on experience in business, social entrepreneurship and economics.

Further information is available by contacting 805.963.8597 or [email protected].

— Kris Bergstrom is the communications director for the Santa Barbara County Education Office.

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