Rapper 50 Cent talks to two teens on stage
Curtis ‘50 Cent’ Jackson speaks to his G-Stars at the “Hustle Tank” Competition at the University of Houston on May 10, 2023. Credit: Jimmie Aggison

School is back in session, and rapper and entrepreneur Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson is taking things up a notch as the city witnesses Houston Independent School District students compete in the 2nd Annual G-Unity Business Lab “Hustle Tank” Competition at the University of Houston on May 10.

At the inaugural event, the competition was set up similarly to the television show Shark Tank, where 75 students from just Wheatley, Kashmere, and Worthing High Schools spend the school year preparing their business plans for their companies along with the guidance of their mentors and coaches, to be pitched in front of Hustle Tank judges, including Jackson himself.

This year, the program has expanded the competition to three new HISD schools, hosting a total of 150 students divided into 13 teams competing for $500,000 seed money to launch their business plans.

“This year we’ve expanded to three schools: Booker T Washington, Madison, and Yates. It’s exciting because these are the school districts where I would be at. These are the schools I would be in. So, it’s like me affecting where I would be growing up,” said Jackson during his introduction speech. “It’s important for me to be able to create a kind of create an opportunity for them to have a better start. You wouldn’t be able to receive this type of curriculum or type of program until you’re in college.”

The winners of the 2023 competition are:

  • First Place – Yates High School: Caribbean Hotdog Boys
  • Second Place – Worthing High School: Sunny Szn’s
  • Third Place : Kashmere High School: Dexterious Designs
  • Fourth Place : Booker T. Washington: Legacy Art

“This generation continues to live in spaces mentally and physically that challenge the art of progression,” Dr. Patrice Allen, G-Unity Business Lab Senior Manager said. “Accepting this mission was nothing different … Without the students down here none of this is possible.”

Revelina Berto is a Jake Yates High School math teacher and coach for Caribbean Hotdog boys. She said her teams’ win means a lot to her students and the entire school.

“For Yates to be a part of a program like this especially with our school rating … it just shows that you can’t judge a fish on if it can climb a tree, you have to judge it on what a fish can do,” she said. “Same thing with our students. Once you put them in their element, they will show you what they can do.”

The G-Unity Business Lab is a pilot program in Houston ISD supported by Jackson’s G-Unity Foundation and Horizon United Group. The program is a laser-focused, one-year course on entrepreneurship for high school students living in communities with a high need of academic and social services. Students will dive into MBA-level lessons that represent the full lifecycle of a product or concept.

For more information, visit the G-Unity Foundation website.

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Laura OnyenehoEducation Reporter

I cover Houston's education system as it relates to the Black community for the Defender as a Report for America corps member. I'm a multimedia journalist and have reported on social, cultural, lifestyle,...