NOVEMBER 1, 2016

VIRGINIA BEACH, VA – Junior Achievement of Greater Hampton Roads and Program Partner SunTrust Foundation have announced the area’s marquee youth entrepreneurship event for the fall of 2016. On November 17, JA Spark Tank: Launch Day will bring together more than 20 student companies from Hampton Roads as they compete for startup funding. 

Companies are comprised of high school students who participate in the JA Company Program at their schools.  The ventures are real, as are the learning experiences.

“In the JA Company Program, the students are running actual businesses from cradle to grave,” said Aaron Arnold, Education Manager at JA of Greater Hampton Roads.  “They’re creating real products, handling real money, and even engaging with e-commerce and crowdfunding.”

Spark Tank: Launch Day coincides with Global Entrepreneurship Week and serves as the ultimate vetting opportunity for the companies’ fledgling business concepts.  The young entrepreneurs pitch their ideas to a panel of judges – and an auditorium full of parents, members of the public, and their competitors – with grant prizes toward much needed capital on the line.

Area schools have bought into the entrepreneurship education that Junior Achievement provides in the classroom and at its events.

“[Our] partnership with [JA] helps to connect top local entrepreneurs with students just learning to develop innovative business ideas,” said Dr. Sara Lockett, Administrative Coordinator with the Office of Technical and Career Education with Virginia Beach City Public Schools.  “The work of our students shows time and again that you really can grow entrepreneurs and cultivate a regional entrepreneurial ecosystem that includes…schools, universities, non-profits, city government, and local businesses.”

The public is invited to attend the event at the Virginia Beach Advanced Technology Center as these students evince their hard work, creativity, and lessons learned.  Spectators also have the opportunity to invest in student companies through the purchase of educational stock shares.

Those who are unable to attend can still learn more about the student companies and contribute backing through JA Launch Pad, an online crowdfunding drive.  Each venture will have its own Indiegogo campaign launching November 14th and will be featured on www.jahamptonroads.com/launchpad.

Proceedings on November 17th will run from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm and feature the company pitches, an extemporaneous challenge, remarks from Virginia Beach Schools Superintendent Dr. Aaron Spence, and a keynote address from Mark Johnson, Vice President and Community Development Manager at SunTrust Bank.

“Entrepreneurship is a key driver of our economy,” said Johnson.   “[The SunTrust Foundation is] proud to support an organization that believes in moving people to financial confidence.   The Spark Tank initiative provides an opportunity for youth to act on this confidence by moving their ideas from dreams to reality, and helping to drive future economic development on a regional level.”

Event Details:

Date: November 17, 2016
Time: 10 am – 2 pm
Location:  Advanced Technology Center | 1800 College Crescent, Virginia Beach, VA23453
More Information:  www.jahamptonroads.com/spark-tank | 757.455.9501
Admission: Free and open to the general public
Additional Sponsors: STIHL and Gourmet Gang

About Junior Achievement of Greater Hampton Roads
Now in its 50th year, Junior Achievement of Greater Hampton Roads is part of the nation’s largest organization dedicated to empowering young people to own their economic success through dynamic programs in entrepreneurship, financial literacy, and work readiness.  The 501(c)3 nonprofit reaches over 13,000 students a year through innovative programming that blends mentorship, hands-on learning, and cutting edge technology.  This year, more than 400 volunteers will visit over 540 classrooms to teach JA curricula, share professional expertise, and inspire and prepare K-12 youth to succeed in a global economy.

About SunTrust Foundation
Helping guide, advise, and lead people along their road to financial security and wellness, or as we call it, Lighting the Way to Financial Well-Being, is the motivation behind everything SunTrust does.  And the end of that road is a Life Well Spent—a life of financial strength and confidence. A life free from the worries of financial burden. That’s why the SunTrust Foundation has provided grants of more than $100 million to not-for-profit organizations focused on education, health and human services, and civic and cultural activities since 2008. Aligning with SunTrust Bank’s larger goal of creating a movement to overcome financial stress in the United States, the SunTrust Foundation is committed to helping people start along their path to financial confidence.