Tuesday, June 5, 2012 - 9:06am

Kadisha Phillips just completed her freshman year majoring in television, radio and film at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.

Phillips is now giving back-mentoring students at an unconventional summer school business program that helped her while she was a rising senior at School of the Arts.

"The program was like a breath of fresh air and we had to dress in real business clothes and learned how to be professional as we worked with real businesses in the community," Phillips says. "It's a wonderful experience for high school students in the city who don't have the same opportunities as those in the suburbs."

Forty students from the Rochester City School District will attend the program from June 9 through Aug. 18 at Rochester Institute of Technology's E. Philip Saunders College of Business.

It's all due to Delmonize Smith, professor in management in the Saunders College, who envisioned building a triage "pipeline" experience to help local youth develop their business, problem-solving and leadership skills through real-world learning.

Now four years since its inception, Future Business Leaders' Experience is a 10-week Saturday session program where students and faculty from the Saunders College meet with minority junior and senior high school students from East High, Edison, Benjamin Franklin, Wilson Commencement and others to help solve pressing business challenges of several Rochester-based minority-led companies.

The program consists of a sequence of business workshops and face-to-face working sessions and culminates in a formal presentation to representatives of the company where students offer cost-effective, practical solutions the company can implement.

"The participating sponsors include James Norman, president of Action for a Better Community; Glen Jeter, owner of McDonald's, and host business partners; TruForm Manufacturing; Foodlink; Urban League of Rochester; and Discovery Charter School, as well as companies from various industries who have agreed to have the students solve their most pressing business challenges," says Smith, who is personally working with the students to make the program a win-win situation for everyone involved.

According to Smith, there are huge benefits to the program. "Superior high school students will go on to pursue a college degree-perhaps here at RIT; participating businesses will have business-minded youth offer solutions to their most pressing organizational challenges, and they'll also get a firsthand look at the potential labor supply," he explains.

"And most importantly, the community benefits through the development of our next generation of business leaders who will be starting and running companies that drive our economy and create jobs."

For more information about the Future Business Leaders' Experience program, go to http://saunders.rit.edu/fble/.

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