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Republic Bank Donation Supports Budding Entrepreneurs at Holmes High School

Republic Bank recently donated $1,000 to the SQUARE1 NaviGo Entrepreneur Select Program at Holmes High School as part of its ongoing support of educational opportunities in the region and to support budding entrepreneurs at Holmes High School.

SQUARE1, a nonprofit organization that provides entrepreneur education and support for business start-ups, created this program to identify and support the next generation of Northern Kentucky entrepreneurs. To accomplish this goal, the organization decided to engage high-school level students by providing them with programs that will assist them in defining an education plan leading to a career in entrepreneurship.

SQUARE1, who works with entrepreneurs and start-ups in the private sector, partnered with NaviGo College and Career Prep Services to help facilitate the organization’s leap into secondary education. NaviGo’s contribution to the program is providing college and career coaching to ensure that students participating in the program are prepared for life beyond high school.

“The SQUARE1 NaviGo Entrepreneur Select Program is developing the next generation of business owners for Covington and Northern Kentucky,” said Tom Saelinger, regional market president for Republic Bank.

“We are inspired by the students who chose to participate in the unique opportunity that SQUARE1 is providing for them and we hope our contribution helps lay the foundation to keep this program going and expanding to other schools in Northern Kentucky,” Saelinger said.

SQUARE1and NaviGo started the high school entrepreneur program at Holmes High School in September 2015. The nonprofit selected ten high school juniors – five male and five female students - to participate in the program through an application process; the selection process was not based on grades but on students’ interest and potential.

Students currently participating in the program are from varied backgrounds; however, they are primarily minorities with life-challenging situations, including at least one who is currently homeless. Many students cited the opportunity that entrepreneurship presents to escape their current circumstances when applying for the program.

“Republic Bank’s donation not only supports the program from a cost perspective, but it sends a message to the students that our community believes in them,” said Keith Schneider, founder and CEO of SQUARE1. “Even if we are simply planting a seed in the minds of these students that entrepreneurship is an option, that in itself is a victory.”

The program consists of monthly after-school meetings to learn the intricacies of a career in entrepreneurship. Students are challenged with the task of coming up with four ideas for potential businesses in the community and four ideas that could potentially help Holmes High School from a management and budgetary perspective. The next step in the program is to evaluate these ideas more deeply, partner with outside businesses and mentors, and hopefully launch several of the initiatives.

Students in the program will go through different methodologies, such as product development, customer relationships, revenue models, and pitching their ideas and businesses.

NaviGo coaches guide the students in researching appropriate high school and college curriculum to aid them in achieving their entrepreneurial objectives. Individual from our regions start-up community are also called upon to serve as career coaches.

Thomas More College President David A. Armstrong recently announced, “Thomas More College is pleased to partner with NaviGo and endorse the work they are doing with our local high school students. We believe in their mission and we are grateful for the additional preparation they provide for college-bound students.”

“Support from the business community will not only allow us to provide materials and lessons to help the kids from a college and career-planning perspective, but it also provides an invaluable business lesson to these young men and women,” Schneider said.

“Even beyond this, the idea of starting a business gives these kids hope that they can directly influence their circumstances and change their lives for the better. It energizes them around an opportunity to support their school, community, and family.”

Schneider is currently planning a summer program to include students from other high schools as well. He hopes to expand this program to other high schools in the Northern Kentucky area as well as recruit a new class at Holmes during the 2016-17 school year.

- Staff report/Photo provided