More secondary school students in Ballarat will be given the opportunity to participate in an alternative learning program with new support from a community bank.
Buninyong and District Community Bank Branch of Bendigo Bank has come on board as a sponsor for this year's Ballarat Upstart Challenge, an initiative that educates secondary school students about entrepreneurship.
This year's program will begin in semester two, with students from Bacchus Marsh College, Mount Clear College and Loreto College already preparing to pitch their business ideas.
We've had students go on to build apps and create social enterprises.Nicole Ashby, Upstart Challenge
Upstart Ballarat program coordinator Nicole Ashby said it was likely more schools would now join the challenge, with the community bank funding support that is cutting the cost that had been a barrier to entry for some schools.
The program has been running in Geelong for the past five years and began in Ballarat last year.
Students pitch ideas and at least one group from each school is selected to participate in the Upstart Accelerator program which runs for two hours once a week at the Runway Ballarat building.
Ballarat business owners mentor students throughout the program and share their personal journeys. The program finishes with a pitching showcase and expo that exposes their ideas to community, industry and their families.
The process introduces students to innovative thinking, critical thinking and what it means to be an entrepreneur by identifying problems and coming up with viable solutions.
Ms Ashby said students came up with impressive solutions to solve problems in their lives during the program's ideation process.
"We've had students go on to build apps and create social enterprises and from there, they can see how they can make a difference in a future workplace or indeed, start their own business," she said.
Buninyong and District Community Bank Branch of Bendigo Bank Stephen Falconer said the program was a great fit with other aspects of the bank's community development investment plans.
"We look forward to assisting local schools to engage in the Upstart Challenge as what the challenge can do for students is marvellous and we hope to see a 100 per cent uptake from schools," he said.
An engaging educational app, a silent fidget gadget and an anonymous clothing delivery service were some of the ideas that were pitched by Mount Clear students as part of the Upstart Challenge last year.
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