And The Winners Are...Young Visionaries for Opportunity

Click to Meet the Winners

Last month I reported on the SparkOpportunity Challenge, an online competition organized by online journalism and advocacy center SparkAction, , the Youth Leadership Institute and others in support of the White House Council for Community Solutions.

The challenge was designed to spotlight ideas to uplift youth and rebuild pathways to jobs and education.  The winners in the under 24 category demonstrate a wide range of perspectives and showcase the creativity of young Americans. All winners receive iPads, start-up grants of $1,500, and mentoring from recognized business and policy leaders.

If you are looking for inspiration to start your week, read on.

Justin Harris, age 15, is the youngest winner of the SparkOpportunity Challenge. Harris hails from Durham, NC and is heavily involved in web entrepreneurship. He founded and runs Pentaplate, a consulting company run by teenagers designed to help other teens start business. Harris’ winning idea is to build and launch Envision, the world's first professional social network for teenage entrepreneurs. Harris’ feels his idea is born of necessity. “Currently, there is not a place for teenage entrepreneurs to receive support in order to build their own vision,” he explained in his context entry.

Harris’ idea, inspired by a desire to make sure all of the energy and potential of young ideas is not lost, is very much in line with the goal SparkAction had in mind in launching the contest. Youth and their ideas are rarely heard at a larger societal level, something which limits the impact their creativity could have.