by Ward Mullens, Published October 21, 2010
YPSILANTI - Eastern Michigan University's B (Business) Side Youth Program is participating in the Pepsi Refresh Program for a chance to win $50,000.
"It is the American Idol of grants," said Jack Bidlack, program coordinator for the Business Side of Youth. "You can vote for something that can impact your community."
Ideas are submitted to the Pepsi Refresh Project and voted on by the general public. The top 10 ideas earn $50,000
The B side program idea is currently 276th in a field of more than 1,000 entries.
Anyone interested in voting for EMU's idea can go to
http://www.refresheverything.com/bsideofyouth or TEXT 102979 to 73774 (standard text rates apply). Participants can vote once a day for each method and vote every day until midnight Oct. 31.
"There are programs out there that have won with 25,000 votes," said Bidlack. "If we can get campus behind us and get everyone to vote once, we could make this work."
The B Side project is called the "B Side of A (arts). Bidlack said that the idea is to give students interested in the arts the business knowledge so that they can make a living from art.
"Two years ago, we started a pilot program and had so many youths that were creating businesses that were arts based," Bidlack said. "It was an obvious connection. Most artists lack business savvy. We didn't want to create more starving artists. They learn skills that help them create a product or a service."
If the B Side can get enough votes to land in the top 10, Bidlack said the program would help 60 local high school students connect with local artisans.
The program would begin in summer 2011.
"Not only would we work with local youth but would employ six local artisans," Bidlack said. "We want the students to build a network and be successful. It's great we're teaching them skills but what they need is a real world connection and to get some feedback from someone who knows about the arts. Networking is key."
The B. Side was formed in September 2007 to establish a youth leadership and business culture through entrepreneurship education that provides greater economic opportunities for youth. Students learn about business through entrepreneurship and development of business plans, gain increased skills in business through internships/apprenticeships and have the opportunity to be employed through enterprises started and owned by The B. Side.
The B. Side is supported by grant funds through Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation, RNR Foundation, James A. and Faith Knight Foundation and Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan. For more information, call 734.487.6570, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.bsideofyouth.com.