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Knoxville Business News Tennessee Mountain Scenery Background
July 15, 2012 | Tom Ballard

Organizers still seeking scholarship sponsors for inaugural “Empowered Teen Entrepreneurship Camp”

The community’s first-ever residential entrepreneurship camp for high school students kick-offs July 29 at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK) and, in the immortal political fund raising lingo, “you can participate without attending.” carried an earlier article on the “Empowered Teen Entrepreneurship Camp” –

The event is billed as a “life changing camp, empowering youth to become successful entrepreneurs from the inside out.” It involves a combination of class sessions, group activities, field trips, and a business plan preparation and delivery.

In a recent interview, Donna Walker of the Ultimate Life Institute (ULI), one of the co-sponsors, provided an update on the planning – 17 students are confirmed and as many as eight more can be accepted if scholarship sponsors are found. She said the cost to sponsor a student for the week-long camp is $500. Those interested in underwriting a scholarship should contact Walker at

In addition to ULI, the other organizers of the camp are UTK’s Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation and Entrepreneurs of Knoxville (EOK).

Walker noted that the Knoxville event is the first week-long and first residential activity of this type in which ULI has been involved.

The 17 students in the inaugural class range from 15 to 18 years old and come from Blount, Knox or Loudon Counties with the exception of one out-of-stater and another from McMinn County.

The always effervescent Walker said the plans for the week have “evolved because of the professionals who have agreed to become involved.” She specifically cited her co-organizers – Tom Graves (UTK) and Leo Knight (EOK) as well as individuals like Alex Lavidge, Lee Martin, Jason Roberts, and about 10 members of EOK.

EOK will hold its traditional Wednesday weekly meeting at UTK’s Humes Hall rather than its normal location so the students can participate. They will tour two local businesses that afternoon – PetSafe/Radio Systems and Stowers Machinery. Knight and Roberts will work with the students to “learn how to make an online game.” Lavidge and Martin will provide their respective insights – one as a young entrepreneur and one who is a seasoned, continuous entrepreneur who is now teaching and mentoring others.

The finale on August 3 will be held at Sequoyah Hills Presbyterian Church. Walker said this location will make it easier for the students’ families to attend the business plan presentations and awards ceremony.

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