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Student entrepreneur awarded with Progress 64 West scholarship

Progress 64 West recently awarded its Louis S. Sachs Scholarship to two local students. This year, Sri Jaladi from Parkway West High in the Parkway School District is the first-place winner, and will receive $5,000 in scholarship funds. Olivia Guffey from Liberty High in the Wentzville School District placed second and will receive a $2,500 scholarship. The winners were chosen based off of submitted business plans that included elements such as product pitches, fund acquisition and market analysis.

Jaladi took first place with his plan for NANO Lending, a social initiative and registered 501(c)(3) he founded in 2018. The plan provides unhoused individual with entrepreneurial resources by launching business incubators at unhoused shelters, connecting new entrepreneurs with mentorship opportunities, and providing a interest-free loan or fund that cover the cost of start-up equipment and materials up to $300. Jaladi also shares entrepreneurial advice via workshops held at area shelters. So far, NANO Lending has provided resources to 103 unhoused individuals and over 127 people who are currently fighting homelessness. 

Olivia Guffey

Guffey’s award-winning plan was for After Dark, Inc., a glow and blacklight run series that provides an outdoor fitness activity for all ages while simultaneously providing for humanitarian efforts. According to Guffey, the inaugural run event will take place in the summer of 2021, and will benefit a local dog rescue. Another goal of After Dark, Inc. was to create an approachable event for those who found larger 5K or 15K events too intimidating.

“With After Dark, I really wanted to hit on fitness, and afterward, it becomes a party where you really get to experience, not really just fitness culture, but more like community culture and connect with other people because you decided to get out there and jump-start your fitness journey,” Guffey said. “I wanted to host a run because I’m a runner myself. I’m in cross-country and track, so I’ve always been passionate about running. With the pandemic, there was almost an opportunity there because people are trapped inside, and seasonal depression is a real thing. You want something to look forward to because you can’t go out. It’s giving hope to people.”

According to Guffey, the passion project came to fruition while taking an entrepreneurial class through the St. Charles County CAPS (Center for Advanced Professional Studies) program.

“It wasn’t until this year that I became really passionate and realized I wanted to start my own business, and I think it’s because of the people I’ve surrounded myself with,” Guffey said. “I’ve met a ton of local small business owners through the CAPS program, and being a part of the class gave me a bunch of really good ideas I would have never thought out by myself, and it inspired me to come up with my own.” 

With the two recent winners, the Louis S. Sachs scholarship surpassed over $100,000 in monies awarded since inception. Nearly 20 years ago, the scholarship began as an award of $5,000 but has grown to award at least $7,500 between two or more winners. Progress 64 West, the organization behind the scholarship, was founded in 1987 by a group of local business leaders with the goal of ensuring a high quality standard for residential and commercial developments in the I-64 corridor. 

The 2020 scholarship is presented by Doster, Ullom & Boyle LLC and American Direct Marketing Resources, with the addition of contributing sponsor Enterprise Bank & Trust. It is named in honor of the late Louis S. Sachs.

“Louis Sachs was a visionary and was instrumental in the growth and success of Chesterfield,” Ed Smith, president of American Direct Marketing Resources, said. “In honor of Louis, it is a privilege to support young, entrepreneurial students as they begin their own paths to future successes.”

According to Mike Doster of Doster, Ullom & Boyle, the scholarship doesn’t just serve to honor Louis Sachs, but also serves as a learning experience for the scholarship’s applicants.

“My firm supports the scholarship for a number of reasons,” Doster, who has served as a longtime supporter, committee member and judge, said. “We support it because it’s in honor of Louis Sachs, but we also support it knowing that the exercise the applicants go through is a learning experience for them, and with respect to the winners, it can be a very influential event in their lives.”

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