The Conductor, a public-private partnership of the University of Central Arkansas and Startup Junkie Consulting, announced on Thursday a new partnership with the nonprofit Junior Achievement of Arkansas to create programming for K-12 students.
The programming will equip kids with expertise in entrepreneurship, innovative thinking, financial literacy and intrapersonal skills, according to a news release.
Two events open to the public are planned.
The Spark! Tank Pitch Competition will be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, April 22, and High School Startup Day will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Thursday, March 16. An Entrepreneurship Kickoff Workshop is also planned for September.
All events will be held at UCA.
For the competition, each student team will have three minutes to pitch its business concepts to attendees and a panel of judges. The winners will be awarded a $1,000 scholarship to attend UCA. The judging panel will include representatives of the university, Southwestern Energy and Acxiom Corp. For registration and application information, click here.
Educational nonprofit Noble Impact is co-hosting the High School Startup Day, where students will work in teams to solve a problem they face in high school education.
The groups will pitch their solutions at the end of the day to judges, including UCA President Houston Davis; Michael Hargis, dean of the College of Business at UCA; Stephen Addison, dean of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics at UCA; and other faculty members.
The winners will receive a $1,200 scholarship to attend UCA. Professional headshots also will be offered to students and teachers. Register here.
More than 90 students, from schools in Hot Springs, Jacksonville, Bauxite, Vilonia and other places around the state, are planning to attend the event.
Jeff Standridge, a Conductor team leader, said building entrepreneurial talent is critical to growing the startup ecosystem in the state.
"We need to help students, teachers and parents understand that entrepreneurship is a very viable career path," he said. "We're living in a new economy, one that thrives on entrepreneurial talent, and we are pleased to have the opportunity to work on building this foundation."