Ahwatukee area high school seniors were once again eligible to receive an educational scholarship from area residents and businesses. Keeping it in the local family is indeed a different twist on scholarships, but one that has been embraced by the Ahwatukee Chamber Community Foundation (ACCF).

This relatively new ACCF Entrepreneurial Scholarship Fund is exclusively for local area high school seniors in the Ahwatukee area. Each year, the ACCF intends to provide a different project topic for student applicants to draft a business plan. This year (2013) sought students to craft a business plan focusing on the development of an Entrepreneurial Academy for adult learning, young business professionals.

Considering the Ahwatukee Foothills area breeds many entrepreneurs and is comprised of a plethora of small and locally owned businesses, the ACCF is working toward developing an academy focusing on the needs of people that are working to bring their ideas, their service concepts, their products to fruition. While this program is being designed, the ACCF was desirous of including the local area students thought processes and needs as they are the future of our area businesses.

The business plans submitted were reviewed and rated by a panel or experienced business professionals in the area. The winner of this year’s project represents Mountain Pointe High School. Sara Abrams, a senior there, has been selected. She is involved in DECA and enrolled in rigorous honors and advanced placement courses and also participates in academically oriented student organizations to prepare herself for the demands of the competitive major universities. She earned an ACCF Entrepreneurial Scholarship in the amount of $1,500.

As a student, Abrams has participated in several professional development conferences and has been recognized for her achievements since she was a freshman. She had served as a student tutor and is presently training tutors for the after-school program. Her commitment to Mountain Pointe High School, its faculty and students continues to be outstanding.

In her well laid out business plan, Abrams described Arizona’s attraction for entrepreneurial businesses and stated that 97.1 percent of all employers in the state are small businesses. The Entrepreneurial Academy would offer advanced knowledge and technical skills to progressive entrepreneurs. The academy would aim to mentor business people and those entering into the business community with a program that covers a wide variety of subject matter essential for a successful business.

Many people start a business because they are passionate about what they love doing or what they know and desire to share their expertise. Most upstart leaders become overwhelmed with all the “paperwork” and “procedures” necessary to make the business work. While many succeed in working IN the business, the entrepreneurs have to continue to work ON the business and possess an understanding of necessary business components such as marketing and advertising, finances, inventories, staffing and human resources, the list goes on and on.

We aren’t experts in any of these areas and often have to rely on consultants or outside professionals to guide us through the mire. While this is true in most upstarts, having the skills to be proficient in all the areas is what makes a well rounded entrepreneur. Learning fresh information is helpful in keeping the business relevant and current.

The Entrepreneurial Leadership Academy and its curriculum is under development and is in need of sponsorship. The goal is to have this program available to the community by January 2015.

The ACCF continues to develop its board of directors and is seeking residents and professionals who would like to give back to the community. Applications are available through the Ahwatukee Foothills Chamber of Commerce. Visit www.ahwatukeechamber.com or call (480) 753-7676 for more information. Donations to the tax-exempt, nonprofit foundation can be made at the Ahwatukee Foothills Chamber of Commerce office, 4435 E. Chandler Blvd., Suite 140.

• Kate Christensen, CMP, DMCP, owner of KCA and Kate & Company, serves as chair of the Ahwatukee Chamber Community Foundation (ACCF).

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