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Banking on Youth Opportunity for youth 13-22!

February, 2013


On Saturday, July 28, 2012, six contestants pitched their innovative, entrepreneurial ventures to a panel of judges and a room full of inspiring young leaders during Ashoka’s Youth Venture Summit. The pitch off took place at George Washington University’s Mt. Vernon campus and awarded the $15,000 grand prize to 19-year-old Lauren Behgam’s organization, The Food Recovery Network, of Plano, Texas.

The Food Recovery Network recovers surplus food that would otherwise be thrown away, from campus dining halls and sporting events, and takes the food to local homeless shelters. Begham plans on using the money to expand their operations.

“I was so nervous, but I realized how important sharing the story of Food Recovery Network was. I knew I was talking to a room full of young changemakers and those that inspire young changemakers. I know that these judges are familiar with the issue of hunger, but I wanted to illustrate how young people are making a difference in this field,” said Behgam.

An Audience Choice Award of $5,000 was awarded to Jonny and Azza Cohen’s team of Highland Park, Illinois. The brother and sister duo were representing GreenShields, an aerodynamic add-on-device for school bus windshields, designed to reduce drag and increase gas mileage.

"There's nothing like knowing that other people believe in our idea as much as we do,” said Azza Cohen. “Winning the audience choice award means so much because we've come so far. I feel really lucky to have the support of all those people.”

Banking on Youth invited young people between the ages of 13 and 20 to submit a creative, 90-second video  to share their idea for a social entrepreneurial venture. Nearly 180 business plan proposals were received this year and all six national finalists walked away with an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C. to pitch their ideas and attend the annual Youth Venture Summit.  In addition to our Grand Prize and Audience Choice Award, the four finalists will each receive $2,500 toward their ventures for competing in the grand prize pitch-off, thanks to the generosity of First Niagara Bank.

In addition to the six national finalists, 55 regional winners were selected by the program’s sponsoring banks: Union Bank (10 prizes), U.S. Bank (6 prizes), Wells Fargo (6 prizes), Bank of America (5 prizes), Citigroup, Inc. (5 prizes), IBERIABANK (4 prizes), M&T Bank (4 prizes), PNC (4 prizes), First Niagara Bank (3 prizes), BB&T (2 prizes), Citizens Financial (2 prizes), Citizens Republic (2 prizes) and SunTrust Bank (2 prizes). Each regional winner received $1,000 of grant funding for their ventures that will directly benefit society.

“It is always inspiring to see how much impact young people have when they give themselves permission to create change,” said Gretchen Zucker, Executive Director of Ashoka’s Youth Venture. “We look forward to working with the CBA Foundation on next year’s competition and to continuing to invest in young people’s entrepreneurial endeavors to make their communities and our world a better place to live.”

A full listing of the 55 regional winners, along with their videos and the videos of the six finalists is available here. For further information about the competition visit For information about how to become a sponsor contact Liz Terry, Vice President of the CBA Foundation at

About CBA
The Consumer Bankers Association (CBA) is the trade association for today's leaders in retail banking - banking services geared toward consumers and small businesses. The nation's largest financial institutions, as well as many regional banks, are CBA corporate members, collectively holding two-thirds of the industry's total assets. CBA’s mission is to preserve and promote the retail banking industry as it strives to fulfill the financial needs of the American consumer.
For more information, please contact Deirdre Leahy, 202-552-6371, or visit

About Ashoka
Ashoka is the world’s largest organization of social entrepreneurs and changemakers. Founded in 1980 by Bill Drayton with the belief that the most powerful force in the world is a big idea in the right hands, Ashoka has grown to 350 staff members, a network of 3,000 leading social entrepreneurs, and operations in 70 countries. It champions the most important new social change ideas and supports the entrepreneurs behind them by helping them get started, grow, succeed, and collaborate. As Ashoka expands its capability to integrate and connect entrepreneurs around the world, it builds an entrepreneurial infrastructure that is supporting the fast-growing needs of the citizen sector. Ashoka’s vision is to create change today, for an Everyone A Changemaker™ society to become the reality of tomorrow. For more information, visit

About Ashoka’s Youth Venture
Youth Venture is an international network of 100,000 changemakers. We inspire and support young people to be changemakers by launching and leading their own civic-minded organizations and businesses, and we help communities around the world realize their potential as communities of changemakers. YV operates in 19 countries and online at



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