Many West Virginia communities have been designated best
“cool towns” from various organizations and magazines throughout the country. Youths
are taking the lead in helping expand the cool factor of West Virginia towns by
creating opportunity and showcasing their entrepreneurial spirit through West Virginia University Extension’s My Hometown is Cool
Statewide Pitch Competition.
The My Hometown is Cool competition gives youths in communities across West Virginia the opportunity to highlight their hometowns and create a project to help make them even “cooler.”
My Hometown is Cool was created to help young people learn about entrepreneurial thinking and community development in the state and in their own towns. In 2021, four teams were awarded mini grants of $2,500 to make meaningful changes in their communities.
The winning ideas included adding pickleball courts to a community park in Greenbrier County, building and stocking three food pantry boxes in Marshall County, running a pop-up coffee cart in McDowell County, and putting on a day-long festival in Nicholas County to attract regional visitors to local businesses.
“Going into this project, I learned a lot about community service and engaging our community, and that’s something I’ve really taken into college,” said Zachary Ellis, a member of the Greenbrier County team. “In allowing youth to go out into the community and find a project where they’re able to see their voices being heard and make a change, that’s a really big thing.”
Teams of two or more youths ages 9-18, with an adult coach, are invited to share their innovative ideas that will add a little something extra to improve their communities. Each team must submit a 3-minute video explaining what makes their hometown cool, and what they think could make it even cooler.
Each team can request between $500 and $2,500 in mini grant funding to turn their idea into a reality. Thanks to the generous support of donors, including Williams and Associates, $10,000 in mini grants is available for projects in 2022.
Teams must have an adult coach at the time of signing up for the competition. Once registered, each team will be sent four lessons on community development for the coach to go over with the participants.
“West Virginia youth are creative and driven to help grow their communities, and we are excited to see the broad and diverse ideas students from across the state submit this year,” said Lauren Prinzo, WVU Extension specialist in community and economic development. “Our team hopes that through this project, youth will see themselves as changemakers, innovators and investors in the future of their hometowns.”
Entries will be accepted until July 15, 2022. To register your team and request an entry packet, complete the registration information on the My Hometown is Cool website.
If you want to learn about WVU Extension, visit extension.wvu.edu or follow @WVUExtension on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram.
CONTACT: Sydney Keener