Home / International / From student to CEO: Anti-violence program funds teen businesses | Photos

From student to CEO: Anti-violence program funds teen businesses | Photos

Dozens of students from across Brooklyn graduated from the first Teen Entrepreneurship Explosion on Saturday, after learning to draft business and marketing plans, meeting entrepreneurs and community leaders, and receiving a $1,500 grant to start their own businesses.

Councilwoman Farah Louis with Shanduke McPhatte and Yandy Smith, Louis, a first-term councilmember has been the steward of the G-MACC and City Hall partnership which started originally with her predecessor, Jumanee Williams. Photo by Mark Davis
Councilwoman Farah Louis with Shanduke McPhatter and Yandy Smith, Louis, a first-term councilmember has been the steward of the G-MACC and City Hall partnership which started originally with her predecessor, Jumaane Williams. Photo by Mark Davis

The program is run G-MACC, (Gangstas Making Astronomical Community Changes), an anti-violence group that seeks to uplift neighbors and disrupt a cycle of drugs, guns, poverty and prison. The program is funded in part by Brooklyn Councilmember Farah Louis.

Shainna Clarke, who launched her business Glossed, by Shay, sets up her booth and included a photo of her and her friends. Each student was awarded $1,500 to launch their own brands. Many of the brands were in the category of beauty, hair and makeup. Photo by Mark Davis
Shainna Clarke, who launched her business Glossed, by Shay, sets up her booth and included a photo of her and her friends. Each student was awarded $1,500 to launch their own brands. Many of the brands were in the category of beauty, hair and makeup. Photo by Mark Davis

The high school students who participated in the program set up exhibition booths inside Borough Hall, spotlighting the variety of businesses that include hair, makeup, interior design, food and even a teeth whitening service.

A G-MACC student works on her cousin's hair. One goal of the workshop was to give students substantive entrepreneurship experience, setting itself apart from job skills and training courses that often focus on students being employees instead of employers. Photo by Mark Davis
A G-MACC student works on her cousin’s hair. Photo by Mark Davis

One goal of the workshop was to give students substantive entrepreneurship experience, setting itself apart from job skills and training courses that often focus on students being employees instead of employers.

“Now we actually have the opportunity to help them meet their full potential,” said Louis. “I’m excited about today’s graduation, about what the future looks like for these young people and we have so much more to come.”

Four students of the G-MACC workshop used their grant to build an eyelash brand. The $1,500 of funding toward their businesses included tasking the students with making their own business proposals as well as meeting with business and community leaders to drive the direction of their brands. Photo by Mark Davis
Four students of the G-MACC workshop used their grant to build an eyelash brand. Photo by Mark Davis

Kaseem Gomez, 19, started his fashion brand ‘Four-Five-Six’ from the funding he received from G-MACC and the city. The name references an automatic winning roll in the dice game cee-lo.

“It’s not just about winning, because you’re not going to win all the time,” Gomez said. “If you keep trying, keep rolling, you’re bound to win. Just keep your head up no matter what, even if you’re losing.”

A DJ at Saturday's award ceremony. Along with local officials and parents, festivities included food from one of the businesses started out of the G-MACC workshop. Photo by Mark Davis
A DJ at Saturday’s award ceremony. Along with local officials and parents, festivities included food from one of the businesses started out of the G-MACC workshop. Photo by Mark Davis

Shanduke McPhatter, 35, started G-MACC after serving time in prison and was looking for a way to end the cycle of poverty and gang violence that he came from. “Having them become CEOs, entrepreneurs and business owners has really opened their minds up to reality,” McPhatter said. “To come here today and have other people see that, inspires them even more. They’re taking that back to their community and their peers.”

Shanduke McPhatter, founder and CEO of G-MACC, addressed the room about his own history and the work of the organization. G-MACC (Gangstas Making Astronomical Community Changes) has a number of programs focused on breaking cycles of poverty and incarceration. Photo by Mark Davis
Shanduke McPhatter, founder and CEO of G-MACC, addressed the room about his own history and the work of the organization. G-MACC (Gangstas Making Astronomical Community Changes) has a number of programs focused on breaking cycles of poverty and incarceration. Photo by Mark Davis

Mark Davis is a Brooklyn-based photojournalist. His work has appeared in ForbesBushwick Daily, and Brooklyn Magazine

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