On May 20th, young people from the community will be taking over the Ithaca Commons to show off their artistic, musical, dance, and entrepreneurship talents. The Finger Lakes GrassRoots Festival of Music & Dance and New Roots Charter School and will be co-producing Rootstock 2023 on May 20th from 12-6pm at the Bernie Milton Pavilion.

Rootstock is a one-day celebration of youth musicians and performers from around the Finger Lakes region with acts ranging from solo artists, teen bands, music producers, dance troupes, CUMEP, and more. Made possible in part with funds from the New York State Council on the Arts and Tompkins County, administered by the Community Arts Partnership; the Joint Youth Commission (JYC); the Park Foundation; and Visions Federal Credit Union.

The festival will host the 6th annual Youth Entrepreneurship Market (YEM) and their signature market event. All youth vendors (grades 4-12) have participated in a series of entrepreneurship workshops with mentorship from local business and non–profit leaders to launch their own business ideas at this community market and others throughout the year. Student vendors will range from the sale of art, crafts, food, jewelry, and more. Students just concluded their Spring workshop series at REV: Ithaca Startup Works with Fish Tank, YEM’s version of the Shark Tank- style pitch competition.  

One of the “celebrity judges” at Fish Tank was local entrepreneur, Kevin Sullivan, who shared his long history of entrepreneurship dating back to when he started his first business at 13 years old. One of Kevin’s newest businesses, Purity Ice Cream, is partnering with YEM during the month of May with a new ice cream flavor, Cotton Candy. All proceeds from the sale of Cotton Candy ice cream will be generously donated to YEM for the development of future youth businesses.

“We’re fortunate in Ithaca to have so many festivals that bring our community together. Rootstock’s unique focus on the next generation of creative youth through music, dance, art, and entrepreneurship is an inspiring addition to our abundance of local festivals. We’re grateful for the contributions of local entrepreneurs, volunteers, local donors, GrassRoots, and the Downtown Ithaca Alliance for helping make it all possible!” – Michael Mazza (Director of community engagement at New Roots Charter School and cofounder of YEM) 

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New Roots Charter School is a tuition-free public charter school serving grades 9-12 that is open to any young person who is eligible to attend high school in New York State. Offering a private school education at a public school price, students prepare for lives of passion and purpose as they prepare to create and embrace new 21st-century life opportunities through career and college preparation. NewRootsSchool.org

YEM is a training and mentorship program for aspiring young entrepreneurs in the Ithaca area. Founded in 2017, the program has empowered hundreds of area students through their workshops and education programs, ultimately bringing their business ideas to life at a series of community markets. The Mission of YEM is focused on Inspiring entrepreneurial thinking through hands-on learning and connections to community, helping students realize the power of their ideas and their voices.

For more information, contact Michael Mazza, Director of Community Engagement at New Roots Charter School, at mmazza@newrootsschool.org.