Jacob S. is a 15-year-old sophomore at Pine View High School who graduated from our organization's Perlman Price Young Entrepreneurs (PYE) program in the fall of 2018. Thanks to support from Richard E. Perlman and James K. Price, Jacob is one of 57 high school students in Sarasota County who has completed more than 65 hours of entrepreneurial education throughout this program. Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota and DeSoto Counties (BGCSC) offers PYE three times a year, and guides local high school students through a curriculum designed to help them create their own business, gain business operating experience, network with industry professionals and community leaders, build their resume and pitch their business plan to investors for a chance at securing seed funding.
By the end of the fall 2018 session, Jacob founded Dollar Donations after discovering young people want to donate to charitable organizations, but are often deterred by the high donation minimums and their lack of disposable income. Dollar Donations enables anyone to donate to a cause by removing high donation minimums and accepting transactions. Jacob hopes Dollar Donations will empower young people to give back, and serve nonprofits by increasing their fundraising efforts.
After careful deliberations, the panel of judges awarded Jacob start-up funding to help him make Dollar Donations a reality.
Now, Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota and DeSoto Counties is catching up with Jacob almost a year later, and asking him to reflect on his PYE experience and share his vision for the future of Dollar Donations.
BGCSC: What made you want to start Dollar Donations?
Jacob: There are a lot of different causes that people are passionate about giving to. I wanted to expand the opportunity by creating a platform where anyone can donate. Dollar Donations does this by removing the high minimum donation requirement that is common among most nonprofits. The idea for Dollar Donations began in 2017 after my sister was diagnosed with type one diabetes. I was immediately inspired to help her, but as a young person, my resources were limited. Dollar Donations was the best way for me to solve this problem and enable myself and others to be able to donate to causes that help create positive change in people's lives - giving as little or as much as possible.
BGCSC: How did the PYE program help you establish your business?
Jacob: The PYE program provided me with the foundation of knowledge necessary to start a business. For example, I had access to multiple resources through meeting with local business leaders, instruction on business best practices, business education materials, as well as, hands-on experience pitching my business and receiving direct feedback. The competitive nature of PYE was an invaluable, real-world experience for me. I pitched my business idea, and it was evaluated against the ideas of other participants. In addition to all of the practical applications, the weekly PYE classes were a lot of fun; it was a great opportunity to meet like-minded young entrepreneurs.
BGCSC: What skills did you learn from the program that have been the most beneficial in helping you launch your business?
Jacob: The PYE program was a great outlet for me to practice my public speaking, critical thinking, problem solving, researching, business writing and extemporaneous communication skills. It also gave me a lot of confidence in my business idea and my ability to bring it to fruition.
BGCSC: What’s next for Dollar Donations? What do you have planned/how do you see the business growing?
Jacob: Recently, I launched dollardonations.org, which enables donors to contribute as little as one dollar to a charity. In addition, Dollar Donations entered into a fundraising relationship to benefit the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), a cause very important to me. In September 2019, the first Dollar Donations marketing campaigns will be launched, helping drive traffic to the website and increase awareness of Dollar Donations. I want as many people as possible to donate as little or as much as they can on dollardonations.org or our Facebook page. After gaining insight from the initial campaign to benefit JDRF, Dollar Donations will partner with additional nonprofits to help with their fundraising efforts as well.
BGCSC: What has been the most rewarding part of this whole experience?
Jacob: The most rewarding part of the PYE experience has been building my idea from a concept into a 501(c)3 nonprofit. It is very rewarding to see money being raised to help change people's lives in a positive way. I've also gained a lot of practical business experience that I will use throughout my career. I highly recommend the PYE program to anyone who has an interest in entrepreneurism or who just wants to challenge themselves with a highly beneficial new experience.
Jacob is now a PYE mentor and loans his expertise and guidance to help current PYE program participants develop their business plans. Jacob is also active in Soccer Club and Investors Club at Pine View High School.