Maine Students Learn from LaunchPad Contestant
Each spring, Gorham Savings Bank hosts an entrepreneurial competition for Maine-based startups to share their emerging business ideas with the local community. The goal of the event, called "LaunchPad", is to celebrate and support Maine ingenuity, creativity, and entrepreneurial spirit. The grand prize winner is chosen at a live Shark Tank-esque event each June, and is awarded a $50,000 grant to enhance their business.
In addition to the "adult" entrepreneur competition, Gorham Savings Bank and Junior Achievement of Maine partner to present "LaunchPad Junior", a program highlighting the entrepreneurial spirit of local middle school students. A volunteer-driven program, the experience inspires critical and creative thinking, teamwork, and self-confidence, while encouraging students to develop a business idea to fill a need in their community.
Entering its third year, "LaunchPad Junior" impacts over 100 students each school year, connecting them with volunteers from the business community who share their own work and life experience, and helping students make connections between school and the "real-world". Each participating class is matched with a volunteer from Gorham Savings Bank who delivers the Junior Achievement program "JA It's My Business", and incorporates the stories and advice of previous "LaunchPad" competitors. Each participating school (3 schools per year) receives a $1000 grant from Gorham Savings Bank.
Last week, Lewiston-based entrepreneur Dianna Pozdniakov from Sofia Fima visited Oak Hill High School to share her story with students, and answer their questions about her company. Sofia Fima is a handbag brand organizing women’s busy lives with confident style. Their bags are customized with organizers based on their customers’ daily needs. Dianna competed at LaunchPad in 2018 as part of the Emerging Idea category, and was inspired by the student aspect of the event. She visited the classroom as a part of the "JA Launch Lesson" program, an exciting way high school students are connected with local entrepreneurs. At the end of the one-hour conversation, the inspired students asked the teacher if they could miss their next class because they wanted to keep talking to Dianna - she clearly had an immediate impact!
We are grateful for our partnership with Gorham Savings Bank, and look forward to this unique program each school year, as do local middle schoolers! To learn more about "LaunchPad Junior", "JA It's My Business", or "JA Launch Lesson", contact firstname.lastname@example.org.