IN THE NEWS: Toyota North America and the Leonidas Foundation Award $7,500 in Collegiate Scholarships to L.E.O. Program Seniors

Inaugural Shark Tank-Style Competition "LIONWORKS” Entrepreneurship Competition at the Mount Celebrates Young Women in Business

February 17, 2021 (Caldwell, NJ) –

MSDA is proud to announce that Toyota North America and The Leonidas Foundation have awarded $7,500 in collegiate scholarships, to “College: Unlocked,” a team of four Mount seniors, and winners of the inaugural L.E.O. “LionWorks” Entrepreneurship Competition at the Mount. 

On Tuesday evening, February 16, seventeen senior students in the L.E.O. Program’s first cohort at the Mount competed in a team-style competition in the spirit of “Shark Tank.” The four teams presented their start-up projects, developed over the course of the previous three and a half semesters, to a panel of “Sharks.” The “LionWorks” competition represents a highlight of the two-year intensive course, which encompasses the full life cycle of creating a business or product from ideation to launch, with the focus on leadership, entrepreneurship, and opportunities. The Leonidas Foundation proudly sponsors and supports the L.E.O. Program at the Mount.

The products presented by the students and considered by the “Sharks” were:

  • D1 Heat: a company that strives to meet everyone’s hand warming needs, with slim, flexible stick on heaters to provide comfort in cold times. 

  • College: Unlocked: an app to help students with the college admissions process, aiding high school seniors in picking a college that best suits them.

  • Bigger Buck$: a budgeting app designed to help high school and college students learn how to manage their money and invest in stocks.

  • Charcuterie Chix: a female-owned and operated company creating and delivering gorgeous and affordable charcuterie boards. “Don't cut the cheese, let the chix do it!”

The Winners

At the conclusion of the competition, which featured 10-minute presentations by each of the four teams, followed by 10 minutes of judges’ Q&A for each team, the “Sharks” selected “College: Unlocked” as the winner. The four members of the team will share the first place prize of $5,000 in scholarships sponsored by Toyota North America. Inspired by the hard work and entrepreneurial spirit of these 17 Mount students, an anonymous Mount alumna along with The Leonidas Foundation, has sponsored the second prize award of $2,500 in collegiate scholarships, which was awarded to team “D1 Heat.”

“Watching the young women of the Mount compete in their first ever L.E.O. “LionWorks” Entrepreneurial Competition was thrilling for everyone involved in the creation of The L.E.O. Program,” said Matthew Perricone, president of the Leonidas Foundation. “We are so proud of the work they’ve done, and can’t wait to keep an eye on these young entrepreneurs as they apply their leadership and entrepreneurial spirit to their endeavors in college and beyond.”

“Today’s Mount students are the change-makers of tomorrow, and empowering them with the skills and self-confidence they’ll need to challenge the status quo and strive for the C-suite is something we take very seriously,” noted Christine Victori, moderator of the L.E.O. Program at the Mount. “These 17 young women have embraced the opportunities provided by the L.E.O. Program, and the time, effort and passion they’ve devoted to their work, and to each other, has been incredibly rewarding.” 

The leadership of Mount St. Dominic Academy and the Leonidas Foundation are grateful for the generous support of Toyota North America, and the company’s commitment to fostering future generations of women business leaders. 

“Watching the students present their businesses, I knew I was witnessing just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what these young female leaders are capable of,” said Ms. Briana Nelson, general manager of Toyota North America who served as a “shark” for the event. “As a champion of women in the workforce, partnering with the Mount and the Leonidas Foundation on behalf of Toyota North America to provide tomorrow’s female business leaders with this unique opportunity has been so exciting.”

See the video of the award presentation.

View more information about the L.E.O. Program, the “LionWorks” Entrepreneur Competition, and other innovative programs for young women offered by the Mount.

View more about The Leonidas Foundation, formed in 2016 in memory of Montville resident Leonidas “Leo” Vagias, an avid learner with a passion for giving back to those in need, focusing on helping young men and women succeed through educational programs.

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