On May 29, 2020 the UCLA Social Enterprise Academy Showcase took place via zoom with over 1,300 viewers. Three finalist teams representing local community non-profit organizations pitched business ventures to a panel of industry experts, angel investors and prominent members of the UCLA community for the chance to win cash awards toward their ventures. The Youth Center was among the three finalists, taking second place and winning $11,000 toward their venture – Camp S.H.A.R.K. After School Adventures.
“Since 2011, the UCLA Social Enterprise Academy has helped over 40 local nonprofits develop social enterprises. The six-month, award-winning program connects undergraduate students with nonprofit organizations to identify earned income opportunities for each of their nonprofit organizations. This was an incredible opportunity to be accepted and we did not dream of winning it all. Our outstanding team of staff, Board members and students put their hearts and soul into this project”, shared Lina Lumme, Executive Director.
Beginning in November, 2019, staff members Lina Lumme and Jamie Harris, along with Board members Arnie Fine, Eric Frankenberg, Jennifer Fontanilla and Nate Epstein worked directly with a team of 5 UCLA student consultants, Minh Mai, Katie Hayden, Alix Le Boterff, Jaewoo Chang and Dominic Le Fort to develop a successful enterprise idea, conduct market research, create a business plan, and pitch the venture to compete for cash and pro bono prizes. The program combines teamwork, expert training and individualized coaching in a comprehensive approach to help develop successful social enterprises. Ten Southern California community non-profits organizations competed in the Academy, with three finalists – The Youth Center, Jazz Hands for Autism and Dream Catchers presenting in the Final Showcase on May 28th for the win.
Training for the Academy was led by UCLA faculty, alumni, and industry professionals from the Academies of Social Entrepreneurship. Throughout the course of the program, students and local community organizations gain insight into idea generation, market research, financial planning and business planning.
For The Youth Center, the timing of the UCLA Social Enterprise Academy could not have been better. In 2023, The Youth Center’s lease for their home of 50 years will expire. “Imagine Los Alamitos without The Youth Center – it’s nearly impossible right? In just a few short years, instead of being a fear, it could become our reality. Because of the hard work and dedication from our UCLA team, we now have a social enterprise that could help us secure a home for The Youth Center,” exclaimed Harris.
The goal for The Youth Center team was to develop an earned income opportunity that would help fund a new, permanent home, while continuing to make a difference for kids in the community – the resulting social enterprise is Camp S.H.A.R.K. After School Adventures. The team identified the organization’s 20 passenger bus as an underutilized resource. Each year, Camp S.H.A.R.K. (an acronym for Science, Hands-on Activities, Art, Recreation and Knowledge) and Camp S.H.A.R.K. field trips are a huge success. The After-School Adventures will consist of The Youth Center’s bus, with two staff members picking up 18 lucky kids from their elementary or middle school and taking them on fun, educational and philanthropic adventures to places like the Seal Beach Animal Care Center, Food Banks, Friends of the Sea Lion Rescue Center and more. “I am excited to launch Camp S.H.A.R.K. After School Adventures and I can’t wait to see the lasting impact it will make on not only the children, but our community has a whole,” Program Director Jamie Harris said.