Two brothers are working to reverse the African-American unemployment gap in Milwaukee with youth entrepreneurship workshops through their own startup company, Young Enterprising Society LLC, and a partnership with the Midwest Energy Research Consortium (M-WERC).

The partnership, which received $90,000 in funding from the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority, developed WERCBench JV – a program that targets inner-city high school students with the goal of introducing them to professional role models and giving them a toolkit for building their own businesses.

Inspired by M-WERC’s successful WERCBench Labs program for adults, the new program has plans to put on at least 14 workshops at Milwaukee-area high schools. The first workshop was held in December at Northwest Opportunities Vocational Academy, where students brainstormed business ideas and learned about turning their concepts into companies.

Top teams from the WERCBench JV workshops will be invited to a 14-week summer camp where they will learn how to refine their business plans, acquire customers and master basic computer coding. The program’s end goal is to get young people interested in technology innovation and entrepreneurship, as well as arm them with the tools they need to succeed in these pursuits.