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A program aimed to introduce high school students to the world of local business and opportunities in their back yard was changed thanks to the coronavirus pandemic that shut down schools for the entirety of the fourth quarter.

 

The Central Illinois CEO Program was in its first year in Clinton, Blue Ridge, Maroa-Forsyth, and Warrensburg-Latham Schools and while school kids were forced to stay at home as the coronavirus shut down area schools, the program went virtual. Program leader Melanie Brown says the three-quarters of the year the students were able to participate, they had a great experience.

 

 

Perhaps one of the most recognizable aspects of the CEO program is the individual business students begin. Brown explains the abrupt conclusion of the school year did not allow them to participate in a trade-show that is the grand finale of their program.

 

 

According to Brown, the communities began this process several years ago and investors in the program found value in it. Additionally, the kids expressed the value of the program at the end of the year.

 

 

Many of the investors and business owners students were able to get to know thanks to the networking they did pay off for many. Brown explains some investors provided personal contact information for them and she hopes the program gave them a glimpse of the possibilities they could pursue locally.

 

 

The first year of the Central Illinois CEO program began with nine students. Brown stresses the program is not funded by the schools nor the State of Illinois, rather by community investors. Those investors often play a pivotal role in the program through mentorships or providing a meeting space, which takes place before the school day begins. 

 

Tomorrow on Regional Radio News, we'll more from Brown on what the next year hold for the CEO program. 

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