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Howard County high school entrepreneurs shine in Junior Achievement competition

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Owings Mills, MD, May 18, 2017 – Junior Achievement of Central Maryland Inc., a non-profit organization dedicated to educating young people to succeed in a rapidly changing economy, announced that a group of JA Central Maryland participants were selected to compete at the 2017 JA National Student Leader Summit (NSLS) in Washington, D.C.

The group of Howard County high school students, who ran a company as part of the JA Rising Women entrepreneurship program, will travel to the nation’s capital June 19-21 to compete with teen entrepreneurs from across the United States. During the three-day event, the young women will have the opportunity to demonstrate their business acumen, creativity, and entrepreneurial thinking in a competitive environment—showcasing their company to members of Congress and business leaders.

“This is the ultimate honor for any student who participates in our flagship entrepreneurship program, which gives high school students the opportunity to run a real business startup under the guidance of volunteers from their local business community,” said Jennifer Bodensiek, president & CEO of Junior Achievement of Central Maryland. “The teens are challenged to develop a product designed to fill an unmet consumer need, recruit investors for their company, and produce and market their product. We are excited that these young women have the additional opportunity to sharpen their leadership and networking skills at the NSLS.”

The students founded Medley, a company that produced “Heart of HoCo,” a compilation book of recipes that celebrates the cultural diversity within Howard County. Medley not only took home the title of JA of Central Maryland Company of the Year at a recent regional competition, but was also selected as one of the 15 team to compete in the NSLS. The 17 students who comprise Medley represent high schools from around Howard County, including River Hill, Mt. Hebron, Centennial, Marriotts Ridge, Howard and Atholton. Five of these students will be selected from the group to compete in D.C.

“We are thrilled to see one of the JA Rising Women student companies recognized on a national stage for their innovation and hard work,” said Alison Canning, Chair of the Howard County Women’s Giving Circle, a fund of the Community Foundation of Howard County. “We funded this program with the hope that it would spark the entrepreneurial spirit in our young women and provide them with meaningful mentor relationships. Not only has JA Rising Women accomplished these goals, it has exceeded our expectations by providing leadership opportunities that are helping these students distinguish themselves and shape a promising future.”

The 15 NSLS teams will vie for five different awards at the NSLS event. The competition’s top honor is JA Company of the Year powered by The Hartford. First-, second-, and third-place awards will be presented and include scholarships for every student on the winning teams. The student companies will be assessed on their financial performance, individual team members’ personal and professional development, a self-produced commercial about their product or service, their team’s live presentation to a panel of business leaders, and on their company’s performance at an Entrepreneurship Expo on Capitol Hill.

The Entrepreneurship Expo will take place on Tuesday, June 20, in the U.S. House of Representatives’ Cannon Caucus Room. The event is open to the public from 2 to 4 p.m. EDT; free refreshments will be served. The general public also can attend the formal student company presentations on Wednesday, June 21, at The Phillips Collection Auditorium, 1600 21st St. NW, from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.