More than 1,000 high school students and educators from across Washington gathered at the Bellevue Hyatt Oct. 29-31 for the Washington Distributive Education Clubs of America Fall Leadership Conference. DECA is an international organization that aims to prepare future leaders and entrepreneurs for careers in marketing, finance and other business ventures. There are more than 11,000 students actively participating in Washington’s division of DECA.
This year, Better Business Bureau Serving the Northwest began a partnership with Washington DECA. While DECA aims to cultivate business’ future leaders, BBB steps in to help them learn key components to running any successful business.
On the second day of the conference, students had the opportunity to attend seminars hosted by guest speakers from organizations around Washington. BBB Marketplace Director for Eastern Washington, Kirstin Davis, was on hand to present to students eager to learn skills in areas such as customer service, business ethics, financial planning and wise buying tips.
It's the support from BBB Accredited Businesses that make this type partnership possible.
While students were taking a break from the educational sessions, they had the chance to explore the Fall Leadership Conference’s Marketing Fair. BBB and dozens of other organizations and businesses provided students with valuable information.
“There are students who attend the Fall Leadership Conference who, when not in school, have become entrepreneurs,” said Washington DECA Director of Philanthropy Brent Mason. “They were able to stop by the BBB booth at the marketing fair to learn how BBB’s services can help them grow their business and become more credible”.
While not every DECA student is already an entrepreneur, they all have share an ambition to succeed in the business world. Throughout the day, whether attending BBB hosted presentations or stopping by BBB’s marketing fair table, students learned about BBB Foundation’s Students of Integrity Scholarship, which will award one deserving high school junior or senior a $10,000 scholarship to a four-year university, community college or trade school.
Lessons on creating a marketplace of goodwill were present even outside the seminars and marketing fair. On the first night of the conference, students and advisors came together to help the Washington community.
“On Sunday night, we encouraged schools to donate canned food or clothes. This benefitted local food banks and Treehouse” said Mason.
Treehouse, a Seattle-based non-profit, benefits children in foster care.
The Fall Leadership Conference was the official kickoff to DECA’s 2017-2018 academic season. In the coming months, thousands of students across Washington will participate in DECA competitions where they will put their skills and knowledge to the test. As these future business leaders begin a lifetime of entrepreneurship and enter the business world, consumers can rest assured that the skills they learn with DECA and BBB will contribute to creating a marketplace of trust across the Northwest.