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April 22, 2012 | Tom Ballard

Application deadline for “Empowered Teen Entrepreneurial Camp” is April 30

Three organizations have banded together to organize a unique six-day entrepreneurial experience later this summer for 80 high school students from Knox County.

The event, called the “Empowered Teen Entrepreneurial Camp,” is set for July 29 through August 3 at the University of Tennessee’s Knoxville campus (UTK). Deadline for Knox County students in grades 10, 11 and 12 to apply for the opportunity is April 30.

In a recent interview with, representatives from two of the sponsoring organizations described plans for the event. They were Tom Graves, Director of Operations for UTK’s Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (ACEI), and Donna Walker, Community Development Director for the Ultimate Life Institute (ULI). The third sponsoring organization is Entrepreneurs of Knoxville (EOK).

Graves said that the Anderson Center decided to partner with ULI because the latter “had a ready-made program that has had success in the past.” He added that one of ACEI’s goals was to engage with high school students before they came to college.

Both Graves and Walker said that much of the curriculum comes from ULI’s existing five-day, non-residential program. The event at UTK has been extended to six days, with ACEI content added. It will also include a residential component with the students residing in Humes Hall for the week. Cost per student is $500 which includes food, lodging and instruction.

Walker said the Camp has a dual purpose. “We want to help teens learn how to dream and how to execute,” she explained, adding that empowering teens to “live their ultimate life” is the goal of ULI.

During the Camp, students will learn about concepts critical for success in entrepreneurial endeavors. These include return on investment, supply and demand, sales and marketing, fixed and variable expenses, preparation of income statements, determination of competitive advantages, and the importance of mindsets on success.

Students will develop their own business plans and present them in a competition on the final day.

The three sponsoring organization have their specific responsibilities. Walker said that the content and instruction are mostly the responsibility of ULI, while EOK is leading the solicitation of sponsors and handling high tech areas. ACEI is providing facilities, handling logistics and recruiting volunteers.

“We’re building a foundation to repeat the Camp in future years,” Graves said. “It’s critical that we run it and understand it this year, so we can run it again next year and beyond.” This is the reason that ULI’s instructors are so important for the initial offering.

“We plan a structured yet free-flowing instructional environment,” Walker said, explaining that the Camp will adopt an approach along the lines of collaborative MBA instruction.

To be eligible for consideration, qualified high school students must submit a two-page application by April 30. It and other relevant information can be found at


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