The STARTedUP Foundation
Opportunities are Everywhere

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This is the official Blog for the STARTedUP Foundation. Look for Student Success Stories, Memoirs from Don Wettrick, Advice for young people, and more!

Rates of Suicide and Depression Among Tomorrows Leaders Rise

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This summer, The Los Angeles Times wrote an article on the rising rates of suicide in our youth. Historically, boys have been more prone to attempting or ending their lives. Now, the rates of young women are steadily climbing. This is an epidemic that gets a lot of attention, yet there has not been a lot of coverage on possible solutions. Later, in the same article one particular line jumped off the page, and quite frankly made me realize the “WHY” in what we do with The STARTedUP Foundation.

“Activities that benefit mental health — including sleep and face-to-face interaction with family and friends — have declined as American youths have deepened their engagement with digital media.”

While I like social media to network, collaborate, (and yes, share pictures of my dog) it doesn’t mean replace the joy I get when I collaborate with my students, colleagues, and friends. 

This post isn’t really about the myriad of evidence that rates of anxiety, depression, and suicide are disturbingly high due. There is no shortage of data and opinions that is disturbing and alarming on “the problem.” Rather, what I want to focus on in this post are the opportunities to get more students engaged, and into the entrepreneurial way of being. 

I get an emotional boost when I brainstorm for solutions, especially with students seeing the opportunities open up before them. I geek out when our team gets into a vision session on where STARTedUP Foundation will be in two years (or next month). I look forward to dedicated time toward mindfulness and being deliberate in my actions. 

Yes, I can open a Google Doc and  do all of these activities online, but brainstorm sessions are REALLY enjoyable (and impactful) with a whiteboard marker in your hand, and your collaborators giving you the “yes, and….” motivation when they are in the room. 

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Brainstorming, collaboration, envisioning possibilities  is “THE WHY” the STARTedUP Foundation has local chapters. Each month our chapters offer opportunities for students to come together, collaborate, and create impact for others. Often times, we invite a small nonprofit or small business to come in and share what they strive to achieve. Then, they share a struggle/ pain point, and have a “big ask.”  The students ask several questions to understand/emphasize, then break into teams of 5 to 7 students to go brainstorm and whiteboard. We give them around 30-40 minutes to create a solution and have a 3-4min pitch ready. The teams get together, make the pitch, and get crucial feedback from the nonprofit leaders and the other students! Lately, we’ve had local business leaders come in and participate, which has lead to some great networking opportunities. Students see it as potential mentors or collaborators, and the adults see a pipeline of talent with the “soft skills” more and more companies are looking for.

We love these events- not only to help local nonprofits and small businesses in awareness of their mission, but also opportunities for students to volunteer or raise funds for them. But our FAVORITE part of these events is the fact that we get students off his/her device and they work with each other. They get into the flow of a brainstorm, knowing it is benefitting a worthy cause. 

A particularly impactful event was when we were working with a family homeless shelter, trying to work on a marketing plan. While that month had a smaller turnout that month, the impact was amazing. The students listened to their struggles, brainstormed on solutions, scanned their network on friendly organizations, friends, and mentors that could help out.  Icing on the cake: we raised $500 that night because we posted that we were working with this organization and sent them a check the following week. 


So in a time where experts are warning that too many teens are trying to find happiness in a social network via screens- we strive to get students together, listen with empathy to a deserving nonprofit, brainstorm for solutions, then pitch. 


This reflects our mission and vision statement: 

We envision a world where young people are freed of apathy, purposelessness, addiction and complacency, by embracing the personal responsibility, service, creativity and purpose of an entrepreneurial way of being.

We are expanding our chapters and want to impact more students to achieve “the entrepreneurial way of being.” No, we don’t expect all students to come there and create a business, app, or clothing line. What we DO encourage, however, is for them to experience meaningful collaborations, cultivate relationships born out of helping others, and engage in REAL conversations- NOT on a screen. 

We want more students to experience these events. Currently, all of our chapters are in Indiana, but are looking to expand in 2020. We also offer hackathons and bootcamps for deeper dives. Our “moon shot” is to host an accelerator for 15-20 young entrepreneurs so they can learn, get mentorship, then launch. We firmly believe that our youth can create opportunities that will impact lives. Starting with their own, as they go through the entrepreneurial journey. The STARTedUP Foundation strives to create these changemakers. 

If you feel compelled, there are three ways you can help is. 

  1. Funding. We are a 501 (c) (3) tax deductible nonprofit. We need more funding to launch more chapters. Plus, because we do not charge students for these impactful events, we are always in need of food and drink funding as well. Go to: https://startedupfoundation.org/donate 

  2. Mentors: We encourage you to sign up to our newsletter. There you can learn about opportunities to help serve. You can also email me direct to learn more about mentorship: dwettrick@startedupfoundation.org

  3. Media: SHARE this blog! Tag family and friends that need this! Invite a teacher, student, or mentor to our network! If you already attend events, feel free to do a video or blog about the experience!

jeremy miller