Sixteen young people ages 13–18 participated in the NEXUS youth initiative, an intensive, seven-week enrichment program designed to encourage entrepreneurship in the fields of energy and the environment. The young people met each day from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Pioneer campus of the Metropolitan Community Colleges. MCC donated classroom space and access to a technology lab.

In addition to classroom training and presentations, the program included several”exposure” field trips, including visits to local urban farms, power plants, water-treatment facilities, money museums, and an environmental justice program. Several of the older teens also participated in the Missouri Legislative Black Caucus Foundation Conference in St. Louis, while younger teens visited the Wildwood Outdoor Education Center near La Cygne, Kan.

The students put their new knowledge into action by developing business plans for entrepreneurial endeavors. They also earned community service hours toward high school graduation.

“These young people were so excited about the exposure they received to new information, new ideas and new opportunities that they often didn’t want to leave at the end of the day,” said Anita Maltbia, Green Impact Zone director. “Building leadership capacity among our young people is a crucial element of our overall strategy as we work with the community on this transformation.”

Two youth coordinators — David Bryant, lead youth coordinator, and Veronica Maull-Turner, assistant youth coordinator — were hired to lead the project. Maull-Turner is a resident of the Manheim neighborhood in the Green Impact Zone.

See below for a video of highlights on the program.