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$100,000 in Prizes and New Business Seed Money for Winning Students

First Annual Baruch College & Merrill Lynch IPO Challenge Award for Leadership & Innovation

New York, NY - October 13, 2004 – Teams of aspiring young entrepreneurs from eight New York City high schools, as well as students from Baruch College, will compete for up to $100,000 in prizes and start-up money to fund new business ventures in the Baruch College & Merrill Lynch IPO Challenge. The announcement was made today at a kick-off event featuring Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein, CUNY Chancellor Matthew Goldstein, Merrill Lynch Senior Vice President Jason Wright and First Vice President Eddy Bayardelle, and newly appointed Baruch College President Kathleen Waldron.

Waldron hosted today’s event, which included the presentation of the first annual Baruch College & Merrill Lynch IPO Challenge Award for Leadership & Innovation to Laima Tazmin, a 15-year-old New York City high school sophomore and CEO of her own Web consulting company, LAVTweb LLC. Merrill Lynch launched Investing Pays Off (IPO ) to prepare young people for tomorrow by arming them with the knowledge and know-how essential for financial and career success. The program also exposes youngsters to learning and experiences that will motivate them to become the next generation of entrepreneurs.

“Baruch is proud to have as its new partner one of America’s great companies, Merrill Lynch. We are grateful for the financial commitment that enabled us to launch the high school entrepreneurship competition, and the guidance and mentoring of key Merrill Lynch staff that will ensure all our students succeed,” said Waldron.

Jason Wright of Merrill Lynch, said, “This is a wonderful opportunity for our company and our employees to participate in a great program that will help promote the best and the brightest students from our city’s high schools and Baruch College. We chose to get involved in this competition because of its very important mission, providing students an extraordinary learning experience and practical business lessons that can lead to successful business careers.”

CUNY Chancellor Matthew Goldstein said, "We are very pleased that Merrill
Lynch has extended its partnership with CUNY to include sponsorship
for the entrepreneurship competition. Their commitment to New York City
high school and college students will surely make this new endeavor very

Chancellor Joel I. Klein said: “I want to thank our friends at Baruch College and Merrill Lynch for providing our students with this great opportunity. I also want to wish all of our students participating in this competition the very best of luck and continued success in developing their entrepreneurial skills.”

Today’s launch coincides with the fifth anniversary of the college level entrepreneurship competition at Baruch College. The college and high school level competitions will now operate on parallel tracks, supporting and mentoring talented and highly motivated young men and women from both the city high schools and Baruch College.

The Baruch College and Merrill Lynch IPO Challenge offers students the opportunity to participate in an exciting learning experience that inspires innovative thinking and paves the way for the creation of new businesses.
Some of the past winners of the competition have done just that. Baruch graduate students Jason Bass (MBA’ 02) and Adam Ostaszewski (’03) were first-place winners who also received an additional $45,000 in seed money to start AutoEval, a company that provides on-site evaluation of used vehicles for prospective buyers. The third-place winner in 2003, Kognito Solutions (, applies the latest research in cognitive science and educational psychology to develop superior e-learning platforms and interactive content for use in corporate and academic environments.

The new high school program will include eight teams of five students each, selected from city schools that have New York State certified entrepreneurial programs in the 11th grade. The New York City Department of Education Virtual Enterprise International Programs in the following schools were selected for participation in the 2004-2005 Entrepreneurship Competition. They include Flushing High School, Fordham Leadership Academy for Business and Technology, Fort Hamilton High School, Harry Van Arsdale High School, Herbert H. Lehman High School, High School for International Business and Finance, Port Richmond High School and Walton High School.

Baruch College, a senior college in The City University of New York, enrolls 15,000 students in the Weissman School of Arts and Sciences, the School of Public Affairs, and the Zicklin School of Business, a top 50 undergraduate business school and the largest accredited business school in the nation. Baruch as an overall “master’s level university” is ranked in the top tier of schools in the northern region by U.S. News & World Report, and is recognized by that survey as the most diverse college in the United States.

About Merrill Lynch’s Philanthropy: Merrill Lynch was founded on the idea that the world is full of opportunity. Opening the door to that opportunity for underserved children and youth is the focus of our global philanthropy. In 2003, Merrill Lynch giving totaled more than $30 million, with education receiving nearly half of that support. Merrill Lynch’s flagship program Investing Pays Off®--or IPO®--helps create a level playing field for youngsters of all backgrounds through financial literacy and business savvy. The program strength lies in a free curriculum, the involvement of Merrill Lynch volunteers and online educational resources at

Pioneered in New York City high schools, Virtual Enterprise International, directed by Iris Blanc, offers students the opportunity to experience in a simulated business environment all facets of working in a real corporation. With the guidance of a teacher (“consultant”) and real-world business partners, the students determine the nature of their business, its products and services, its management and structure, engage in the daily operations of running a business, and trade with other simulated businesses throughout the United States and the world. The Baruch College-Merrill Lynch IPO Challenge serves as an applied learning activity for business, economics, finance, and career education.

For more information, contact:

Vince Passaro, Baruch College - (212) 802-2916
Lonnie Soury, Soury Communications, Inc. - (212) 414-5857
Selena Morris, Merrill Lynch - (212) 449-7283


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