December 2, 2023

Suburban Balance’s new Youth Entrepreneurship Academy aims to help increase access to economic mobility and opportunity.

150 high school students combined have already shown up to participate in the three sessions hosted so far by Suburban Balance which speaks volumes about the interest, excitement and enthusiasm surrounding this groundbreaking Academy, called the L.E.A.D. Academy (Leadership, Entrepreneurship and Advocacy Division) of Suburban Balance and the momentum continues to grow at each session.

Founder and CEO of Suburban Balance, LaShawn Walker believes that developing programming that can help close the wealth gap and potentially put students on a viable path to economic prosperity will be beneficial in the long term in creating financial stability and upward mobility.

“Studies show that an education alone is not enough to guarantee financial stability. We know that there are still barriers people of color face when it comes to succeeding in business ownership, one of those barriers is gaining access to capital. So our goal is to expose aspiring young student entrepreneurs early to financial education so they will have a head start on knowing what it takes not only to start a business but to be successful in business.

This new academy that has also welcomed middle schoolers to a couple of sessions will be one of the most important program developments since the non-profit was founded in 2012 that will help change the trajectory for African American communities in which we serve”, said LaShawn. “Suburban Balance wants to see a strong inclusive economy. So, creating this robust, one-of-a-kind Entrepreneurship Academy was intentional, she added. The Academy exist to expose and educate young aspiring entrepreneurs early on what it means to secure access to capital, help them understand the lending process, discuss credit, what documents banks require to secure a business loan and how the history of lending has impacted the wealth gap.

Here is what students from Lee’s Summit and surrounding areas who are in the program are saying about the groundbreaking new L.E.A.D Academy (Leadership Entrepreneurship and Advocacy Division).

Jada Burris: senior, Olathe North High School – To me the L.E.A.D Academy is important to young entrepreneurs because it exposes young adults to more opportunities. Being able to attend L.E.A.D we are given the steppingstones to become an entrepreneur with guidance from entrepreneurs who have been in our shoes. Something I also love is how welcoming everyone is at each event, everyone feels comfortable sharing where they want to go in life and what steps they are going to take to get there!

Skyelar Anderson: senior, Ray-Pec High School – I am Skyelar Anderson, Ray-Pec Senior, and newly appointed Suburban Balance Youth Advocacy Director! After attending & being able to speak at the LEAD Academy, I could see the impact that an opportunity such as this had on me & my peers. We were not only exposed to entrepreneurs such as Anita Moore, owner of Soiree Steak & Oyster and others but had the opportunity to understand the ins and outs of being a successful, Black leader! Leadership takes many forms and it’s very important to create early exposure as students can explore career opportunities and interests. The LEAD Academy also creates pathways of advocacy and economic prosperity because as students of color it is so crucial to advocate what we want to see in our communities and in our futures. Personally, being in attendance has not only improved my motivation to lead in my school but also look at the number of opportunities I can create for myself just through entrepreneurship or leadership. I have also been able to implement such skills into my school days as I attend Raymore Peculiar’s LEAD Center and many projects I work on surround entrepreneurship and leadership.

Jadon Young: junior, Lee’s Summit High School – Attending the Suburban Balance L.E.A.D Academy program has given me insight into entrepreneurship and has allowed me to connect with individuals who have great knowledge and passion for their work. However, L.E.A.D is much more than learning about entrepreneurship, it has also given me the opportunity to connect with other aspiring leaders to network and establish relationships. I encourage any SB student to make it a priority to try and attend a future L.E.A.D event. It is a great time with great people while investing in yourself.

Jeremiah Tipton: senior, Lee’s Summit High School – SB L.E.A.D Academy is important to the youth because it is very beneficial. I have learned many things about business and some of the things it takes to run a business. I have met many strong Black people and have been inspired to one day get to their level. I have also made many friends, made connections that I wouldn’t have before, and I enjoy what we do when I attend. It allows Black kids to fit in with people who share similar ideas, dreams and goals. Overall, it is a great experience and I feel we need more people in our community to get involved and take advantage of it.