On May 12, the Rock Island-Milan Education Foundation awarded $10,000 to Rock Island High School entrepreneurs at the Final Pitch night in the RIHS Auditorium.

Five student teams presented their products or services to a panel of judges in hopes of winning three different awards: Best Pitch, Best Business Potential, and Best Business Model. The winning teams for the Final Pitch were:

  • Best Pitch: “Boardable” – Payton Cassidy; $2,500
  • Best Business Potential: “Pooh Pods” – Calvin Banks, Jacob Voigt; $2,500
  • Best Business Model: “The Cobblers” – Jason Arroyo-Vasquez, Zach Beckman, Ravon Johnson-Taylor, Samuel Steffen, James Webb; $5,000

The teams may elect to use their winnings as start-up funds for their businesses or divide and use as scholarships. All funds are managed and distributed by the Rock Island-Milan Education Foundation. Other teams presenting at the event were “Elite Grip” – McCree DeVoss, Zander George and “Luminous Learning” – Isabella Almanza.

This is the sixth year for the year-long INCubator: Entrepreneurship and Enterprise Class at Rock Island High School. Throughout the school year, teams of Rocky juniors and seniors developed their ideas into viable businesses with the assistance of community mentors and coaches under the guidance of their classroom teacher, Patricia Matson.

All 14 teams from the INCubatoredu class participated in the Academic Pitch in May to showcase their businesses before a panel of judges. Each team was scored on presentation, business viability and the team’s ability to handle questions with the top five scoring teams moving on to the Final Pitch.

Judges for the Final Pitch included: Mayor Mike Thoms, Pryce T. Boeye, Doug Hultquist, John Nagle, Andrew Dasso, Ty Lewis, and Monta Ponsetto. Mayor Mike Thoms, Hungry-Hobo owner Pryce T. Boeye, founder of Streamline Architects & Artisans Andrew Dasso, and St. Ambrose student and former Entrepreneurship Class participant Ty Lewis are all RIHS alums. Hultquist is the founder of Quad City Bank & Trust, Nagle is Senior vice president, chief lending officer for QCBT. Monta Ponsetto is the executive director for the Rock Island-Milan Education Foundation.

The INCubator.edu was developed in Barrington High School. Rock Island High School was the sixth in the nation to bring the program to its students. There are now 375 participating schools in 27 states, Hong Kong, Japan, and Australia. In 2017, the RIHS team L.E.A.D. won the National Final Pitch – competing against teams from all over the country. More information and a picture of L.E.A.D. can be seen at:  https://www.unchartedlearning.org/student-programs/incubatoredu-high-school-entrepreneurship

The Rock Island-Milan Education Foundation was formed in 1986 to enhance academic opportunities for student success in the Rock Island-Milan School District. The foundation manages scholarships for students, distributes grants to teachers in the district for classroom needs, and works to fund programs throughout the District to aid students’ academic success.