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Students at KIPP Tulsa Public Charter Schools will embark on the city’s first ever pitch competition on December 9 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Taulcoy Room event venue.  Much like the popular show Shark Tank, students will take turns pitching ideas that could be turned into a business, with scholarships as the prize.

The goal is to develop students to thrive, so they don’t feel like they have to leave their hometown to become successful.

And under the backdrop of a community that birthed Black Wall Street, event organizers say they hope there will be a winning team able to build out their idea into a minimum viable product (MVP).

High School pitch competition brings Shark Tank to the classroom
In-person pitch competition mentorship meeting. (Courtesy of: Ray’Chel Wilson)
In-person pitch competition mentorship meeting. (Courtesy of: Ray’Chel Wilson)

Ray’Chel Wilson is a former award-winning KIPP Tulsa teacher who now leads as Development Director. For her, the pitch competition is long overdue.

“As a former teacher at KIPP Tulsa, I’ve always been inspired by my students,” Ray’Chel Wilson told The Black Wall Street Times. “This shouldn’t be the first. I shouldn’t have been the one to create it. But I’m so proud they are able to take part in such a historic moment.

Move over Shark Tank: KIPP Tulsa preps for pitch competition

Short for the Knowledge is Power Program, KIPP is a network of charter schools designed to improve educational opportunities and outcomes for low-income families. KIPP Tulsa started in 2005 for fifth graders only. Now, it offers a continuous college prep program for 5th through 12th graders.

In partnership with Littlefield Agency, KIPP Tulsa’s first-of-its-kind pitch competition will feature three different teams of 11th and 12th graders competing for scholarship dollars in an event that builds leadership, presentation, and creativity skills.

“We are so excited to partner with KIPP,” said Sam Littlefield, President and CEO of Littlefield Agency. “Their leaders are forward-thinking and have been awesome to partner with in creating this new scholarship program. The most important thing is that these students feel empowered to do great work.”

The numbers don’t lie

When it comes to the impact KIPP Tulsa has on the community, the proof is in the numbers.

KIPP Tulsa recently graduated its first senior class with a rate of 93.3%, the highest graduation rate among any school in historically Black north Tulsa, according to Ray-Chel Wilson. She’s out to prove that the next Shark Tank star could come right from this community.

“I am proud of our students to be able to be part of a legacy that is much bigger than just academics and culture,” Wilson said.

She wants people to know that creating a future without limits requires taking an active role in the lives of the youth. For those participants who don’t take home the winning prize, Wilson encourages students to keep trying. The pitch competition will be an annual event.

“Fail forward and get ready for the next round. Get back up, and get ready for next year. That’s what I’d say to the teams that don’t get first place.”

Deon Osborne was born in Minneapolis, MN and raised in Lawton, OK before moving to Norman where he attended the University of Oklahoma. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Strategic Media and has...