Atlanta’s educational and corporate forces united on April 26 towards the common goal of making the entrepreneurial dreams of eight Booker T. Washington High School (BTWHS) students a reality.
The Spring 2023 PitchFest competition, modeled after the notorious “Shark Tank” TV series, provided the opportunity for participants in the school’s Financial Literacy class to win seed money to launch their business ideas.
Motivation for the competition started with William C. Wade, principal of BTWHS, who was inspired by Lloyd Foster, a student they lost to gun violence. Foster regularly pitched ideas to Wade he believed would help the community.
“[Foster] often spoke about local hardships like food deserts, and opening businesses and other ventures that would raise the economic well-being of the surrounding West End community,” said Wade.
H. James Dallas, a highly successful businessman and BTWHS alumni, shared this vision and immediately offered his support and resources.
“When I was a student at Booker T. Washington, I had several teachers that really made a difference in my life,” said Dallas. “They inspired me to take action in making an impact on my community and I am always looking for opportunities to pay it forward.”
The competition gave Dallas the opportunity to do just that, as his sponsorship provided each of the winners with $1000 each in startup funds, coupled with a certificate from the Fulton County Board of Commissioners, and enrollment in a Limited Liability Company class which includes the funds to file for official LLC status.
Tashyra Lyles, one of the competition’s winners, expressed how happy she was to have entered PitchFest and plans to put her seed money to use immediately through her mobile phone screen repair business, Official Reboot.
I knew that the competition was something that I would want to do,” said Lyles. “I’ve always been the type of person to get involved. I was like, ‘I have a business, I love public speaking, and I love presenting so why not get my business out there.’ I plan on expanding my services to better assist those in my community.”
Fellow winners Tiara Poole & Hali Jordan, also plan on utilizing their business, Living Legend, to give back to their community by shedding light on the negative effects of gun violence, while promoting the positive message that simply living makes one legendary.
Losing Foster was also the inspiration behind their business model, and they hope that spreading their message to their peers and community will not only save lives but solidify his memory for future generations.
Principal Wade believes this will not be difficult to do as the competition has already highlighted the type of life Foster led and has been successful in securing corporate sponsorships and community support. In addition, talks with the City of Atlanta Mayor’s Office have already begun for BTWHS to host a city-wide Pitchfest this Fall.
“Foster has left a legacy through this competition, and I am excited to see what it will become.” said Wade.
Congratulations to the student competitors:
- Tiara Poole & Hali Jordan, Living Legend
- Cornelius Kemp & Quentavious Wimberly, Metro United Pressing Design
- Tashyra Lyles, Official Reboot
- Joshua Carthon & Jazoria Blanchand, D-BET
- Jordan King, One Stop Beauty Shop