'Shark Tank' pitches help middle schoolers gain confidence

Goodwill partners with schools for program

DENVER -- The pressure is on at Grant Beacon Middle School, where students are pitching their ideas for products to volunteer judges. 

"We made a smart charger, basically a charger that charges any device," says Arlan Borunda.

But the product isn’t the point of the presentations. The real goals are to work as a team, practice public speaking and gain confidence. Goodwill Industries of Denver partners with area schools for leadership classes. The organization's mission is to help people achieve success in the workforce. The "Shark Tank" pitch day is just one way the students learn skills that will help them in the future.

"For a lot of these students this will be the first time they’ll be talking to adults in a professional setting," says Goodwill PR and digital media specialist Jessica Smith.

Unlike the TV show, "Shark Tank," there's no investment, but the teams do have a chance to win $100. Goodwill partners with YouthBiz, which provides the prize money for the winning team. The kids also get valuable feedback from the judges, who are volunteers with Goodwill. 

"Many of them might think there’s just one path to getting a certain job, and exposing them to successful business people, to Goodwill and some other organizations, allows their world to get a little bit bigger," says Grant Beacon principal Michelle Saab.

Goodwill says the shark tank presentations are just one of many ways Goodwill is impacting more than 18,000 students across the metro area. Goodwill has facilitators in 36 schools in 7 districts across the metro area and northern Colorado. Other programs include mock interviews, one-on-one mentoring, portfolio reviews, and career panels.

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