SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) — Some businesses trying to survive the pandemic are getting free help from teenagers, thanks to a program started by two ambitious San Jose high school students.
These teenagers offered to boost Bernard Hutcherson’s struggling gourmet burrito business.READ MORE: 'The Father Is A Hero'; Oakland Man, 1-Year-Old Daughter Die In Horrific Arson Fire
“I just took a leap of faith,” Hutcherson said.
The students built him a website, CookingNStyle.com, so he can take online orders – and market his $100 steak and seafood special.
“This helped out a lot. A thousand percent,” said Hutcherson.
The young web builders are volunteers from Elevate the Future, the San Jose nonprofit high school seniors Arjun Gupta and Rayan Garg started two years ago.
They began by teaching free classes on web design, computer science, and business to South Bay middle school students.
“It was actually really empowering,” Garg said. “A parent came up to us and told us their student was talking about economics at the dinner table.”
The pair has also organized free virtual conferences and business competitions for emerging entrepreneurs. So far, Elevate the Future has served thousands of students in more than 40 chapters nationwide, and over a dozen countries.READ MORE: Antioch Teen Fatally Wounded In Saturday Night Shooting; Angry Crowd Confronts Responding Police
“I’m very proud that we have this huge team of students ready and able to assist their communities,” Gupta said.
The nonprofit has turned its attention to keeping small businesses afloat during the pandemic. Currently, high-schoolers train middle-schoolers to build free websites for those without one.
It’s a rewarding opportunity for 13-year-old Manank Doshi.
“It was a real honor to help a small business,” said the high school freshman. “I’m happy I have the ability to do this now.”
LEARN MORE: Jefferson Awards for Public Service
Elevate the Future pays for the first year of domain and hosting charges for the website. Hutcherson said he gave a donation, but the nonprofit’s services are generally free, funded by donations and grants.
Gupta, who attends Lynbrook High School, and Garg, who goes to Archibishop Mitty, say they’ve just begun.
“We felt like really happy and really proud,” Garg said.
Gupta added, “Our goal is to be in every country on the planet eventually.”MORE NEWS: Video: Solano County Sheriff's K9 Subdues Suspect Fleeing On Foot After High-Speed Pursuit
So for teaching teenagers technology and business skills to serve others, this week’s Jefferson Award in the Bay Area goes to Arjun Gupta and Rayan Garg.