About 20 African American males from Blackburn Middle School in Jackson, are in groups brainstorming business ideas. They have to explain their idea the same way potential entrepreneurs do on the reality TV show "Shark Tank." People appear on the program hoping to obtain investors. Twelve-year old Rodricukus Ratliff's group is pitching developing a pothole mobile app.
"When you get close to the pothole it's going to have some kind of beep. It's going to tell you how far you are from it or how close. Do you need to get to the left or get to the right," said Ratliff.
The seventh graders are in the Verizon Minority Male Maker's program and attended an Entrepreneurship 101 workshop with spokesperson Kevin Liles at Jackson State University. Liles is the founder of the artist management company KWL Management, and former president of Def Jam Music Group. His message...
"You can create. Today find that idea. Today build on it and here's technology and engineering and mathematics and surrounding science to help bring your idea to light," said Liles.
Liles says only three percent of the nation's engineers are black males. The program is sending 700 students in various cities to colleges, to learn more about Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. This summer, Blackburn students built mobile apps with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's inventor program. Rodricukus is hooked.
"I feel that I know that I can accomplish things," said Ratliff.
That's the lesson Liles says he wants students to learn.