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Attorneys assist young entrepreneurs

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When an attorney in a bar association’s program for young lawyers learned that a program that helps at-risk youth to start and maintain their own businesses was in transition and needed a little help, he suggested his group step in.

As a result, David Jones, formerly of Riley Bennett & Egloff in Indianapolis, who recently moved to Arkansas for a job closer to his hometown, suggested his group in the Indianapolis Bar Association’s Bar Leader Series Class VII support the work of Business Leadership in the Next Generation, or BLING.

The IBA group’s role with the organization was to present an orientation for the students June 12.
 

IBE Immanuel Ivey, BLING program director, center, works with Daiontez Locke, left, and Stephen Cole on their business plans. (IL Photo/ Perry Reichanadter)

For the orientation, the group members, including Mary Ann Fleetwood of the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office, Reynold Berry of Rubin & Levin, John Henning of Ogletree Deakins Nash Smoak & Stewart, and Leslie Gibson of Cohen & Malad, helped get support from local businesses, including door prizes like Colts tickets and restaurant gift cards.

The group also scheduled speakers to address the students, including Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Dudley Guice, who spoke about the importance of academic achievement. Community and business leader Deborah Oatts, president and CEO of Nubian Construction Group, spoke to the students as well.

BLING program director Immanuel Ivey added the IBA members also helped with supplies such as notebooks, pens, and paper, and have offered to continue to work with BLING as mentors as needed.

The IBA group that helped BLING was one of five in the leadership series, including a group that has been working with military families including a website and kid-friendly event, another group worked with a youth indoor soccer league, one group created a resource directory for blighted neighborhoods, and another group worked on a “Peace Coach” program in conjunction with the Peace Learning Center.

BLING, which has been around for about five years, according to Ivey, offers students from age 10 through high school an intensive five-week course in June and July that teaches them how to determine and implement a business plan and set short-term and long-term academic goals, while learning public speaking and marketing skills.

In the past, students have come from various neighborhoods, but this year they are all from the Martindale–Brightwood neighborhood and are bused from the Edna Martin Christian Center to downtown Indianapolis for their classes.

Throughout the five weeks, students also learn financial literacy through a program provided by Key Bank. The students sign up for a bank account through Mt. Zion Credit Union, and in past classes, students’ parents have opened their own bank accounts as a result of what their children have learned.

Students also hear firsthand accounts of what it means to run a business from business owners, and take field trips to banks, businesses, and a Black Chamber of Commerce networking meeting, Ivey said.

Berry, who recently attended one of the classes in mid-July, compared what the students were learning with a college-level business course. He added he was excited to see what the students were doing.

“Some kids have a natural tendency to be entrepreneurs, but they don’t know the business terms” or exactly how to implement their business plans, he said.

With BLING, the students come up with an idea for a business. They earn points through attendance, pre- and post-tests, participation, and homework. The points are converted into dollars, up to $100, and then they can use the money they earn to buy supplies to make products for their businesses, Ivey said. They purchase supplies from wholesale vendors, and based on the costs of supplies can choose how much to charge for their goods.

Then the students, as well as alumni of the program, market and sell their products to attendees of the Indiana Black Expo in the youth section of the event. This year, the students were at the Indiana Black Expo July 16-18.
 

IBE 02 Rubin & Levin attorney Reynold Berry, left, helps Goldie Reed with her BLING project. (IL Photo/ Perry Reichanadter)

Following the weekend at the expo, the students continue their class and discuss how their businesses did, and future goals they have for the businesses and for their academic achievement.

During a graduation ceremony for the participants, the students present their business plans. Prizes are awarded to the first-, second-, and third-place winners. Berry planned to attend the graduation ceremony and the other lawyers were welcome to attend as well.

This year, the program has 11 students working on a total of seven businesses.

Among the types of businesses in this year’s class are a candy store, students selling lotions and body oils, and a partnership that is designing clothes, Ivey said.

One of the students, Sheon Cole, an eighth-grader at Guion Creek Middle School, said she joined the program because she wanted to make money selling things and because she was good at math but wanted to learn to be a better salesperson.

For $5 per pair, she sold flip-flops she bought from a wholesaler. She chose the flip flops because she liked the design.

Robynisha Lee, a seventh-grader at Guion Creek Middle School, set up a jewelry business selling necklaces, toe rings, bracelets and bangles, and earrings. Before the expo, Lee said she looked forward to selling all of her jewelry, and Cole said she looked forward to making money.

“I learned how to be a business person, how to make a business plan, and how to set up goals for later in life,” Cole said.

Lee added that the class also taught them how to save money. “You have to save because you may need it later,” she said.

Berry emphasized that his group’s involvement with BLING was mainly the orientation, even though he’d like to stay involved if asked.

“Now that I’ve been involved with BLING, I see that community service is its own reward,” he said.•

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  1. On a related note, I offered the ICLU my cases against the BLE repeatedly, and sought their amici aid repeatedly as well. Crickets. Usually not even a response. I am guessing they do not do allegations of anti-Christian bias? No matter how glaring? I have posted on other links the amicus brief that did get filed (search this ezine, e.g., Kansas attorney), read the Thomas More Society brief to note what the ACLU ran from like vampires from garlic. An Examiner pledged to advance diversity and inclusion came right out on the record and demanded that I choose Man's law or God's law. I wonder, had I been asked to swear off Allah ... what result then, ICLU? Had I been found of bad character and fitness for advocating sexual deviance, what result then ICLU? Had I been lifetime banned for posting left of center statements denigrating the US Constitution, what result ICLU? Hey, we all know don't we? Rather Biased.

  2. It was mentioned in the article that there have been numerous CLE events to train attorneys on e-filing. I would like someone to provide a list of those events, because I have not seen any such events in east central Indiana, and since Hamilton County is one of the counties where e-filing is mandatory, one would expect some instruction in this area. Come on, people, give some instruction, not just applause!

  3. This law is troubling in two respects: First, why wasn't the law reviewed "with the intention of getting all the facts surrounding the legislation and its actual impact on the marketplace" BEFORE it was passed and signed? Seems a bit backwards to me (even acknowledging that this is the Indiana state legislature we're talking about. Second, what is it with the laws in this state that seem to create artificial monopolies in various industries? Besides this one, the other law that comes to mind is the legislation that governed the granting of licenses to firms that wanted to set up craft distilleries. The licensing was limited to only those entities that were already in the craft beer brewing business. Republicans in this state talk a big game when it comes to being "business friendly". They're friendly alright . . . to certain businesses.

  4. Gretchen, Asia, Roberto, Tonia, Shannon, Cheri, Nicholas, Sondra, Carey, Laura ... my heart breaks for you, reaching out in a forum in which you are ignored by a professional suffering through both compassion fatigue and the love of filthy lucre. Most if not all of you seek a warm blooded Hoosier attorney unafraid to take on the government and plead that government officials have acted unconstitutionally to try to save a family and/or rescue children in need and/or press individual rights against the Leviathan state. I know an attorney from Kansas who has taken such cases across the country, arguing before half of the federal courts of appeal and presenting cases to the US S.Ct. numerous times seeking cert. Unfortunately, due to his zeal for the constitutional rights of peasants and willingness to confront powerful government bureaucrats seemingly violating the same ... he was denied character and fitness certification to join the Indiana bar, even after he was cleared to sit for, and passed, both the bar exam and ethics exam. And was even admitted to the Indiana federal bar! NOW KNOW THIS .... you will face headwinds and difficulties in locating a zealously motivated Hoosier attorney to face off against powerful government agents who violate the constitution, for those who do so tend to end up as marginalized as Paul Odgen, who was driven from the profession. So beware, many are mere expensive lapdogs, the kind of breed who will gladly take a large retainer, but then fail to press against the status quo and powers that be when told to heel to. It is a common belief among some in Indiana that those attorneys who truly fight the power and rigorously confront corruption often end up, actually or metaphorically, in real life or at least as to their careers, as dead as the late, great Gary Welch. All of that said, I wish you the very best in finding a Hoosier attorney with a fighting spirit to press your rights as far as you can, for you do have rights against government actors, no matter what said actors may tell you otherwise. Attorneys outside the elitist camp are often better fighters that those owing the powers that be for their salaries, corner offices and end of year bonuses. So do not be afraid to retain a green horn or unconnected lawyer, many of them are fine men and woman who are yet untainted by the "unique" Hoosier system.

  5. I am not the John below. He is a journalist and talk show host who knows me through my years working in Kansas government. I did no ask John to post the note below ...

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