By Kate Royals
UNITY Journalists Inc. awarded Manship School doctoral student Victoria LaPoe a $3,333 grant to fund her business idea as part of a competition designed “to give journalists of color training in entrepreneurship, and support them as they develop their specific business concepts.” LaPoe attended UNITY’s Start-Up Boot Camp with two other finalists in early August.
LaPoe’s business, “Soaring Eagles: Rising Voices, Reaching Great Height,” involves working with Native American youths involved in media. The goal is to foster diversity in Native American media, beginning with youth training. LaPoe’s plan is twofold: the first part focuses on using social media as a platform for ethnic voices to be heard; the second works directly with communities to create mentorships for youths.
The plan involves “going into the communities that the media works in to work with middle and high school students and underrepresented and low socioeconomic status groups to talk to those students, find what their passion is, and link them up with media and other businesses in this area, so they have a Big Brother Big Sister-type group to help mentor them,” LaPoe describes.
While at the boot camp this summer, LaPoe and other attendees heard from entrepreneurs from around the country.
“They were mostly recent start-ups. Some of the most interesting folks were Harry Lin and Ben Huh. They talked about how they took an idea and turned it into millions [of dollars],” LaPoe describes. “A simple idea can become a business and it can become a business like a for-profit venture, but it can still help people like traditional non-profits.”
LaPoe’s dissertation “Authentic Native Voices: How Emerging Platforms are Changing American-Indian Media” informed her business plan. The dissertation focuses on Native American media and how it’s being affected by emerging media. LaPoe also recently signed a contract for a book, which will be a fleshed out version of her dissertation.
LaPoe is looking forward to putting her funding to further her business plan.
“High school is a pivotal point of mentorship when it comes to careers,” LaPoe says. “This funding will help me reach out to some areas that mainstream media often doesn’t cover and others often don’t know about or connect with.”