The Fellowship Open Continues to Inspire Our Future Entrepreneurs

The Fellowship Open, one of the country’s largest diversity charity golf outings, has raised more than $800,000 in support of more than 60 organizations that have made a positive impact on the lives of young people. The 13th annual outing is scheduled for August 16 at the Silver Spring Country Club.

The Fellowship Open’s efforts include sponsoring a teenager to participate in the Black Enterprise/Teenpreneur Conference, which encourages youngsters to pursue and realize their dreams, and particularly consider careers in business. At the conference, the teens heard from successful entrepreneurs and participated in workshops that gave the teens advice on how to run a successful business, and make their business reach their maximum potential. By the end of the conference, the youth developed and presented a proposal for their business idea. According to the Fellowship Open website, the teens that are chosen to attend the conference will later share their experience, with their peers.

ReDonna Rodgers, director of the Center for Teaching Entrepreneurship and coordinator of the Fellowship Open/Black Enterprise Teenpreneur Conference partnership, says they select which teen will attend the conference through recommendations received from teachers and community associations, for students who are in business programs in school, church, or a community organization.

“Students are interviewed to ascertain their knowledge of Black Enterprise/Teenpreneur and what value they believe such an experience would offer,” Rodgers said.

Alex James, was operating his own lawn care business, “Year Round Yard Work,” when he was selected to attend the event. James said he gained a lot from the Fellowship Open.

“I have been able to see things I never thought I would, such as the BE Entrepreneur’s Conference, and also meet people I never would have like Judge Hatchett and Keith Murphy,” James says.

According to James, the BE Teenpreneur Conference helped him open his eyes to a brighter future outside of the daily struggle.

“I’ve pretty much always had the entrepreneurial spirit, but being in that environment just added fuel to the flame.”

As a recipient of the Fellowship Open scholarship, James was awarded a cash prize which he used to buy new business attire for the conference, as well as pay transportation costs.

James Kirk, who was also a member of the Center for Teaching Entrepreneurship, was chosen by the Fellowship Open to attend the 2011 conference in Atlanta. Kirk said it was wonderful to see so many black business owners and power shakers; and the event broke the stigma that all business owners are White, Arabic, and Asian.

“I’ve dedicated my life to serving my community and encouraging my generation to step it up and follow your dreams. Seeing and being a part of this reassured me that my hard work is not in vain,” Kirk says.

Kirk described what he gained from the Fellowship Open is “mind blowing,” and seeing people share both their wins and losses encouraged him to do the same. Since the conference, Kirk has started a new organization, “Man 2 Man Youth Development,” in which the youth meet powerful, educated, and determined individuals; who come from the same community as them.

Alonzo Kelly, a mentor of the Fellowship Open youth mentoring program, was Kirk’s mentor. Kelly, as a mentor, was also inspired by the conference. He said the advice he took from it was, “go for it.”  Kelly also said Damon Dash inspired him to launch his own merchandise website called, “My Own Truth.”