Children, Incorporated Partners with Rotarians to Launch Native Youth Entrepreneurship Initiative in Arizona

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Richmond, Virginia-based non-profit and Altadena, California Rotary Club join forces to teach Navajo youth the value of entrepreneurship

A special thanks goes to C. Ray Carlson, Chair of Youth Entrepreneurship Education of Rotary District 5300 who is helping to teach Navajo youth how to create their own businesses through training and business plan development exercises.

Children, Incorporated and Rotarians from Altadena, California are launching the Native Youth Entrepreneurship Initiative, teaching Navajo youth of Coconino County, Arizona how to escape economic instability and create new opportunities through entrepreneurship. One hundred Navajo teenagers between the ages of 13 and 18 will benefit from a series of one-to-two week training sessions geared towards getting more Native Americans in Arizona interested in building their businesses. The primary goal is the development of new Native-led businesses that create jobs for other members of the community.

"We're thrilled to have the support of Rotary and other civic organizations in Northern Arizona for such a worthwhile project," said Liz Sweeney, Director of Marketing & Donor Development for Children, Incorporated. "A special thanks goes to C. Ray Carlson, Chair of Youth Entrepreneurship Education of Rotary District 5300 who is helping to teach Navajo youth how to create their own businesses through training and business plan development exercises."

Part of the initiative includes ongoing technical support during and after the training sessions through local Navajo business owners and business development agencies in an effort to offer encouragement for the new businesses to survive. Through successful business efforts, the program will help Native youth community leaders and business owners while sharing their Native heritage through increased economic ties within their community.

The partnership caught the attention of entrepreneurial expert Jennifer Villalobos and she will be joining the initiative to lead sessions. Villalobos was named "Youth Entrepreneur of the Year 2004" by the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development. The training sessions will focus intensely around the creation and development of individual and family business plans, mentorship support and life-skills education.

Navajo youth in Page, Arizona see few opportunities to succeed with the tribe facing a staggering unemployment rate of 56%. Only 1.7% of privately owned businesses in Arizona are owned by Native entrepreneurs, which has led to a lack of mentorship and support for more home grown Native businesses. The nation-wide unemployment rate for American Indian youth is 15% and the Navajo youth of Page represent the single largest subset of the population at 16.5%.

Faced with very limited economic opportunities and wide-spread alcohol abuse, Native American youth suffer form a suicide rate four to five times higher than the national average. These negative influencing factors often lead to feelings of hopelessness and diminished images of self-worth. Limited opportunities to earn a decent income have created a systemic effect that can destroy individuals, debilitate families and cripple communities for several generations.

This initiative represents the continuing effort of Children, Incorporated to help Native American children find opportunities for improved lives. Children, Incorporated works with public and Native schools and affiliated community partners to implement programs designed to help these children in need. Children, Incorporated's American Indian Division supports more than 1,617 Native children and young adults throughout Arizona, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and New Mexico.

For additional information about the Native Youth Entrepreneurship Initiative, or to learn about sponsoring a child in need, contact Children, Incorporated Director of Marketing and Donor Development Liz Sweeney at 800.538.5381 or visit

About Children, Incorporated
Children, Incorporated is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization based in Richmond, Virginia that works to improve the lives of children living in poverty through partnerships with orphanages, schools and community centers in the United States and 23 other nations. With donations and sponsorships, Children, Incorporated provides food, clothing, medical care and education to over 17,000 children worldwide. To learn more and find out how you can help, visit Facebook.


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