NORFOLK — East Coast middle school girls are about to get a dose of entrepreneurial knowledge this summer with the help of a local business woman.
Envision Lead Grow’s 7-City Bus Tour kicked off its seven-week tour in front of Old Dominion University’s Strome Entrepreneurial Center Thursday.
“There’s so much untapped potential in these young girls and often times you’re distracted by life,” Angela Reddix, camp sponsor, said in an interview. “We’re going to take girls, and we don’t know what their circumstances are, but we’re going to expose them to the possibilities.”
Reddix, who also owns Norfolk healthcare company ARDX, said the summer camp tour is designed to make what can seem unattainable feasible.
The tour stops in seven cities, including Atlanta, Baltimore, Philadelphia and Norfolk, focusing on pitching, articulation, networking and one camper in each city can earn a $500 investment.
“For one week, we ask them to dream about what they’re passionate about — find that inner-voice and follow that,” Reddix said. “We all have a gift, so it’s really about how to translate that into a plan.”
Five female college students with dreams of their own — including Instagram consultation and a boutique gym — will help run the camp in each city.
One of them is Reddix’s 20-year-old daughter Anyssa, who studies business administration with a focus on entrepreneurship at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She’s the camp’s program manager.
“We’re going to be asking questions that they’ve never thought about before, and we’re really going to push them in uncomfortable places, but the further they lean into it, the more they will get from the camp,” Anyssa said. “I hope when they leave, even if they don’t want to be an entrepreneur, they’re willing to dive into new things.”
Leya Aronoff, a 20-year-old psychology student from southern California, said she’s ready to help inspire and motivate middle school students.
“I really want the girls to know that they can do whatever they set their mind to,” Aronoff said. “My dad totally ingrained this quote into my mind, saying that ‘if anyone can do it, why can’t I?'”
Reddix said stops on the tour will become a longitudinal study as part of her PhD dissertation.
“In these different areas, because these girls are focused and they know where they want to go, does that increase graduation rates and teen pregnancies,” Reddix said. “If we can actually see where these girls stand, compared to the community at large, this truly I believe, is an intervention program for many societal issues.”
After camp, Reddix said attendants will continue to work together with mentors during hour-long monthly web conferences with each other to track goals.
“They’re going to have positive peer pressure,” Reddix said. “We’re going to highlight the girls who are moving toward their goals, and the girls who have challenges because of different circumstances are going to learn problem-solving skills from each other, instead of adults.”
Reddix said the top 20 percent of girls who engage in the monthly call will be invited to Washington D.C. to meet eight female Fortune 500 company owners next May.
“The thing about being an entrepreneur is that it’s a lonely place. These 10 years of owning ARDX — there haven’t been a lot of entrepreneurs in the area I could lean on,” Reddix said.
“To be raised in an environment where you have peers across the East Coast who are talking the same language makes you comfortable. And when you’re comfortable, you become confident.”
The camp’s last stop is at ODU from July 31 to Aug. 4.
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