Youth Venture, an organization that invests in teams of young people as they start their own sustainable social ventures, and Best Buy have the announced 30 finalists, ages 13 to 18, in the Best Buy @15 Challenge with Youth Venture.
@15 is Best Buy's pro-social initiative to "connect with Gen Y, give voice to their perspectives, and invest the company's resources to turn their ideas into action and support their efforts to lead social change." The other goal is to get youth to look at the different social entrepreneur projects other teens are doing with the idea of having them emulating the projects and getting actively involved in their own community.
Now that the finalists have been selected, Best Buy@15 and Youth Venture want you to vote for the winning project. Voters should judge the Venture Teams on their project's creativity, community impact, and sustainability.
When you vote, you can can register to win a free iPod shuffle and $500 to donate to their school or favorite nonprofit. Voting can happen either online or via mobile phone at www.yvteams.mobi and all the youth teams are working to get the word out using posters, cards, Facebook and MySpace widgets.
In addition, if you text "AT15" to "96171", Best Buy will donate $15 dollars to the @15 Fund. You can learn more, including the contest rules, by clicking here.
This is a smart move for Best Buy. A recent demographic study of Gen Y texters conducted by Scarborough Research reported that among Gen Y consumers, Best Buy was their preferred retailer for audio-video purchases. Moreover, 39% of texters live in a household that shopped at Best Buy during the past year vs. 27% of all consumers nationally.
This is a great example of a company weaving social media and mobile elements into a project that allows it to do good and do well at the same time. One of the key elements that makes @15 so popular is that they have created a virtual environment where teens want to be. This is no small feat.
In addition, @15 is successful because it isn't solely tied to a virtual environment or social networking community. Teens are using the @15 social community as a way to connect, exchange ideas and project strategy with peers and then implementing it in a real world context.
The end result is that teens will invite their friends to get involved in the @15 community and projects and, in turn, introduce the Best Buy brand to their friends. Brilliant.