Saturday, February 24, 2018

St. Labre students receive their Montana TeenPreneur Challenge award from Gov. Steve Bullock (back row), Lt. Governor Mike Cooney (far left) and One Montana Program Director Bobbi Geise (far right). Students awarded, in no particular order, are Elena Not Afraid, Tonielle Shoulderblade, Amberly Whiteman, Shamon Flat Mouth, Bryson Redgrave, Vann Falls Down, Jolonna Black Eagle, Jediah Plain Bull, Ociola Bement, Rose Red Star, Gnaya Small and Tameron Medicine Bull.Students Tonielle Shoulderblade (left) and Elena Not Afraid eat with Gov. Steve Bullock.

St. Labre students win honors in TeenPreneur Challenge

Twelve St. Labre Indian School Academy students from Ashland, Mont. were recognized for their outstanding achievement during a recent awards ceremony hosted by Gov. Steve Bullock at the Capitol. Students won Honorable Mention for Existing Business Idea in a statewide contest for high school students, called “Montana Teenpreneur Challenge.” The students business, Braves Ink, is a Native T-shirt design and production business, begun by St. Labre students in January 2016.
Prizes include $250 and an opportunity to shadow a buyer during this year’s Made In Montana trade show.
Montana Teenpreneur Challenge was hosted by Bozeman-based nonprofit, One Montana. Students pitched their ideas in the form a short video and written business plan to a panel of Montana entrepreneurs serving as volunteer judges. 
“The goal of the challenge was to shine a spotlight on Montana’s next generation of entrepreneurs and business leaders in rural and urban communities across the state,” Program Manager Bobbi Geise stated. “If the students who entered our contest are indicative of the innovative spirit that exists among our teens, then Montana’s economic future is bright.”
Montana Teenpreneur Challenge is an outgrowth of One Montana’s Rural-Urban Student Entrepreneur Exchange. For five years, the Exchange has paired rural and urban high schools across the state for two-day programs in each community. During the first day, students learn from local entrepreneurs about the challenges and rewards of starting and growing their business. The second day, students from the visiting school shadow their peers to gain a first-hand experience of the similarities and differences between school cultures and to continue strengthening their friendship. The final project for each school group is to apply what they learned from their business visits, and develop and pitch an idea for a business that will address an identified need in their community or broader region. St. Labre has participated in three Exchange programs with Billings high school peers.
“We were gratified to see the outpouring of support for the Challenge from Montana’s business, government, nonprofit, and university communities,” Bill Bryan, One Montana founder, stated. “It demonstrates that all sectors of the state can work together to build a vibrant future for our citizens.” 
Between the Exchange and the TeenPreneur Challenge, students from more than 20 schools and 200 businesses across Montana participated.