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October 23, 2008 - Bash at the Biz

What: Fashion Show, VIP Reception, Dinner & Networking

Where: Mile High Station

When: Thursday, October 23, 2008

Time: 6:00 p.m.

Ticket Prices: $65 Individual Tickets; Corporate Sponsorships from $500 to $5,000

Beneficiary: YouthBiz, Inc.

EMCEE: Brandi Shigley, Fashion Denver

Executive Director: Sonya Garcia Ulibarri

Catering: Occasions by Sandy

Sponsors: Center for Multicultural Excellence, NorthWestern Mutual, My Emma, Caring for Colorado Foundation, Colorado Foundation for Families and Children, Holland & Hart, Gay and Lesbian Fund, United Way, MEDA, Fashion Denver and Moneytree

Attire: Business Formal or Cocktail Attire

Models/Fashions: YouthBiz participants, Denver city officials, Broncos cheerleaders; featuring fashions by local designers--Equillibrium, Rachel Tai, Fallene and DVLP

Board of Directors: Justin McMorrow, Chair, TopSchool; Steven Ziegler, Vice Chair, Tri-Worth Solutions; Jennifer Margenau, Treasurer, Ball Corporation; Natalia Solis Ballinger, Secretary, Greenberg Traurig LP; Denise Lourdes Delgado, La Clinica Tepeyac; David Fisher, Growth Retail Partners; Randall Miller, Holme, Roberts & Owens, LLP; Rufus Nagel, Aion Investments; Jim Nollsch, FMI Corporation; Jolie Reihm, KeyBank; Jessica Sherrick, Arapahoe Library District; Vic Smith, Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce.
Board of Trustees: Debbie Jessup, Bank of Choice; Monica Pleiman, OMS; Michael Pollack, Hyde Park Jewelers; Diane Wallach, Cody Resources.

 Jackson Boone (left), Noah Price (designer of DVLP clothing line, featured in fashion show), George McNeese and Jon DeStefano
Jackson Boone (left), Noah Price (designer of DVLP clothing line, featured in fashion show), George McNeese and Jon DeStefano

T-shirts are more than just a staple in the wardrobe of Denver area teens; t-shirts have been the means of teaching students essential business skills and then connecting these teens with local celebrities and city officials at a YouthBiz, Inc. fundraiser.

Thursday, Oct. 23, YouthBiz, inc., held the inaugural “Bash at the Biz,” a fashion show featuring catwalk creations by local designers and YouthBiz, Inc. tees at Denver’s Mile High Station. The event also included a VIP reception, dinner and networking. Proceeds benefited the nonprofit organization, YouthBiz, Inc., which provides innovative after-school and summer programs to area middle- and high-school students in order to strengthen their academic performance and prepare them for workplace success. The agency provides a variety of innovative programs designed to empower and educate students living in Denver’s inner-city neighborhoods, while equipping them with the skills necessary to acquire stable employment.

Since 1992, one of the organization’s core, and most notable, programs has been the t-shirt business, YouthInk. Last year, YouthInk printed almost 16,000 screen-printed products, mostly t-shirts, allowing students like Shanita Lewis to essentially develop professional and entrepreneurial skills. Lewis, a 17-year-old Denver resident, addressed VIP guests at the Bash at the Biz, explaining how YouthBiz has helped her, illustrating how support truly makes a difference. Lewis has participated in Youth Biz for six and a half years, continuing a family legacy, following in the footsteps of her three older siblings. “I know the impact (Youth Biz) has had on my life and theirs,” said Lewis. As a supervisor in the YouthBiz program, Lewis essentially has an after-school job and teaches classes and workshops to younger students on such topics as financial literacy, goal setting and the benefits of job shadowing. “It’s like school,” Lewis said. “I learn so much, but I get paid for it.” Youth Biz has helped “push” Lewis to meet her goals, she said, and continue to set new ones—such as applying to and then attending George Washington University in the fall. “I’m going to college!” Lewis declared emphatically. “Whatever I have to do…I am going to college. Youth Biz has been supportive of that goal.” Her brown eyes glowed with excitement as she talked of possible majors and programs she wants to explore at college. “I’m just counting down,” she said.

Lewis was also excited at the prospect of being in the fashion show. She was joined on the runway by her peers in the YouthBiz program, as well as Denver city officials, former Denver Nuggets players, Broncos cheerleaders and a Denver Post reporter—all donning YouthBiz t-shirts (designed especially by the students for this event) or designs by Equillibrium, Rachel Tai, Fallene or DVLP.

“You’ve caught a real glimpse of the energy of YouthBiz tonight,” said Justin McMorrow, chairman of the YouthBiz, Inc. Board of Directors, at the conclusion of the fashion show. He then went on to recount a story of a young man who got involved in YouthBiz instead of the gang in this neighborhood. “It moved me so much, I got involved,” he said. “These kids are having experiences well beyond their neighborhood.” McMorrow, an entrepreneur himself, said he never had the opportunity to learn or experience what these students gain through YouthBiz. He said he can see how the business skills they learn while running YouthInk would have helped him in his own entrepreneurial endeavors.

This year has been a “banner year” for YouthBiz, said McMorrow, including selling a property it owned in LoDo and purchasing a permanent home in Denver’s Five Points neighborhood. With the purchase of the new space, YouthBiz was able to serve over 400 area youth this year, a substantial growth over the previous year’s 300 students. The board is making plans to establish satellite offices all over the city, enabling the organization to help more of Denver’s youth. YouthBiz has helped over 2,800 middle and high school students in its 16 years of operation. The Bash at the Biz will help keep that momentum going—and The Gay and Lesbian Fund of Colorado matched donations made at the event. “We will become bigger and bigger,” McMorrow declared.

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