The Business Springboard Pathway at the Ilitch School hosts their second annual Shark Tank Competition

The Business Springboard Pathway at the Mike Ilitch School of Business has completed its second year, providing dual enrollment classes to high school students who want a jump start on their business education before they begin college. 

Students from Cass Technical High School, Cesar Chavez High School and the Detroit School of Arts all took a version of BA 1000 designed to teach high school students foundational business and career building skills, including hands-on project work. 

“The significance of this business dual enrollment course with Wayne State University cannot be overstated,” says Sandra Sanchez, a college advisor at Cesar Chavez High School who attended several class sessions. “This opportunity is particularly crucial for our Latino and first-generation students, addressing a gap in representation. Exposure to a university-level business setting provides them with essential skills and experiences that will undoubtedly shape their future endeavors.” 

The Dual Enrollment Program was created by Stacy Jackson, associate director of educational outreach for Wayne State University, with the goal of placing high school students in college courses across many disciplines. The Business Springboard Pathway is another way they are fulfilling that mission. 

"Ultimately, I want our dual enrolled Warriors to embrace the power of dual enrollment, where success is not just a destination, but a journey enriched by early learning and boundless possibilities,” says Jackson. “Business Springboard Pathway and its Shark Tank competition embody these endeavors."   

Dual enrolled students participating in the Business Springboard Pathway both years have also participated in a Shark Tank competition, where they pitched products to a panel of experts from the Ilitch School and the surrounding business community, with representatives from Ally, AAA—The Auto Club Group, Next Level Real Estate Group, and the T. Rose Foundation Inc. Young Entrepreneur’s Academy. 

“I mentored in both classes, so it was fascinating to see first-hand how these young thought leaders work as a team to research a specific problem, develop a tailor-made solution, and then craft a story to help others see their vision,” says Cherisse Montgomery, Corporate Social Responsibility Consultant at AAA – The Auto Club Group. “These are skills that will easily translate into other domains of their lives.” 

This project was put together by Ilitch School career advisor and instructor Bianca Fielder, career advisor and instructor Noor Jawad, MPREP director Lauren Scott, MPREP program advisor Kiantee Rupert-Jones and assistant director of graduate programs Veronica Seatts.  

“As instructors, we aim to empower our students to be the next generation of change agents. We hope that through this Shark Tank competition, students build self-confidence and transferrable skills like effective communication, problem-solving, critical thinking and creativity,” says Fielder and Jawad. “We hope students take the initiative to continue networking with great professional mentors, local entrepreneurs, and business leaders from the Metro Detroit area.” 

Dual enrolled students worked on their pitches with Ilitch School M.B.A. students and professional mentors on November 14 and 15. The winning pitches were a “Dream Closet” that considered every functionality of the space and the “Part-It 3000,” a 360 mirror that uses an app to help uses part and style their hair for completely different looks. 

This program is in line with Ilitch School initiatives to engage with the larger Detroit community and offer mentorship and college level educational experiences to students seeking to be better prepared for their future college education. The creators of the Shark Tank competition and the Business Springboard Pathway hope to see this program continue and expand in the future.  

“The Business Springboard Pathways program gives young scholars an opportunity to gain hands-on college experience while providing them with the resources and support they need to be successful,” says Scott. “I hope that every student that steps into the Ilitch School of Business feels valued, seen, heard, and understands that they belong here.” 

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