The Greater Boca Raton Chamber of Commerce is a model for non-profits supporting community development the nation wide. Since 1952, this chamber has been enabling the community's business people to thrive by providing opportunities for leadership, networking, innovative business programs, education, and giving back to the community.
Beth Johnston is the current Executive Vice President of the Greater Boca Raton Chamber of Commerce. Serving the chamber’s 1200 members, Beth oversees many of the programs that set this chamber apart as an example of excellence in the non-profit community. These programs include the Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA), an after-school program that takes students through the process of starting and running real businesses over the course of an academic year.
In 1991, the Board of Directors of the Great Boca Raton Chamber created the Golden Bell Foundation dedicated to supporting the Boca Raton Public School System. Since its inception, the foundation has donated $1 million to local public schools.
The Greater Boca Chamber seeks to support the local non-profit community by planning and hosting Boca Festival Days which is a month-long celebration during August which highlights and supports these organizations.
The Chamber also supports young professionals and women business owners in the area by offering networking opportunities and educational programs tailored to these groups.
The YEA! program adds an entire layer to the services that are offered by a Chamber of Commerce. Never before have Chambers leaped into the business market of students under that age of 18. However, GBRCC recognizes that there are many bright ideas amongst these students - they just need to be cultivated. Beth Johnston comments on their joint effort with SCORE to offer this program saying, "The SCORE organization is an important piece of the puzzle as it is a true partner to entrepreneurship and business."
The greatest challenge for the Boca Chamber YEA! program was the need for smart business people to mentor students. The logical place was to go to the SCORE South Florida Chapter for help. The Chamber needed mentors to guide the students when writing each segment of their business plan. The mentors worked on the students' PowerPoint presentations and the corresponding speech cards with the students. They helped the students with market research, product descriptions and the strategies for implementation of their business. The six individuals who stepped up to help these students went above and beyond the call of duty. The SCORE South Florida mentors who participated are: Wolfgang Kurpiers, Ronald Popp, Martin Kahn, Herbert Beyenbach, Carl Isbitts and Arnold Gresser.