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Supporter Spotlight: Meet Steve Tatum

After graduating from Oklahoma State, Steve Tatum began his career with Koch Industries. Steve’s career includes roles in distribution and logistics, as well as marketing and management. Today, he is President of Koch Minerals and Sr. Vice President of Koch Industries – Minerals and Trading. A vocal supporter of Youth Entrepreneurs, Steve is involved as both a donor and a classroom volunteer. “It’s been a really rewarding experience for me. I get more out of it than the kids do, I guarantee it!” he smiles. Meet Steve Tatum.

His YE connection: “Ever since YE was founded by the Koch family, I have had awareness,” Steve says. He initially became involved as a donor 20 years ago. “That evolved to serving as a judge for the final Business Plan presentations, and I’ve continued to be a supporter over time through various avenues.” His connection became personal when both of his children took the YE course themselves, at Kapaun Mt. Carmel High School in Wichita, Kan. The course helped heighten their awareness to the concepts YE teaches, concepts Steve had been instilling in them at home as well.

Classroom volunteer: Steve has been involved over the past few years as a Classroom Volunteer, advising students at Wichita South High School on their business plans, working with the instructor and participating in Market Day. “I wanted to get more on the ground level with the kids,” Steve says. “Where the rubber meets the road is in the classroom working with the students. It’s been a great experience, and I enjoy hearing what’s on the students’ minds and how they think about entrepreneurship. I’ve seen so much transformation in the students and it’s been rewarding for me.”

Earning success: “There’s no better feeling than earning your success, and you see that with these kids,” Steve reflects. He remembers all the mindset shifts that took place for students on Market Day. “On Market Day, students see the market happening over the course of an hour. It’s real products and real consumers. ‘Why are they walking by me to buy from another booth instead of mine?’ They adjust. And the next Market Day, they adjust again. It’s a great learning experience for them.”

Friend-raising: One of the highlights of his YE involvement is spreading the word about the program, Steve says. He has enjoyed making introductions on behalf of YE to friends and associates over the years. “Everyone sees a void in our society and the need to teach young people not only how markets work, but how the world works. Young people aren’t getting that awareness anywhere else. Once people see what YE is about, it’s easy to tune into that.” 

Why he contributes to YE: “I believe in it,” Steve smiles. “Youth Entrepreneurs is teaching young people how to create value for the market and also benefit themselves. I believe students don’t get enough of that at any age. YE connects young people to how they can earn success and prosperity. Ultimately, success happens when you get out into the world and support yourself, and the way you do that is to improve the life of someone else. YE shows students that.”

Alumni connections: As a Wichita resident, Steve enjoys bumping into YE alumni. “When I see some of the kids who have been in YE in past years, either at the school when they’re older or around Wichita, it’s easy to see the confidence they have.” He recalls a time when he saw a young YE graduate at a restaurant. “She was reserved in the classroom and didn’t share much,” he says. “But in the restaurant, she came up, said hello and was very friendly, telling me all about her education today and how she appreciated her experience in YE. It was fun to see. She was different from her first day in the classroom, very engaging and proud of what she was doing.” 

His YE passion: “I really believe in the program, and so I’m excited to see YE expand as they are,” he says, noting exciting opportunities to grow into new communities. “YE has lots of momentum, and once people understand what the program is and how kids can get involved, it’s easy to want to become involved yourself. Many people share my view that young people aren’t getting exposure to the kinds of lessons YE teaches. Kids can be afraid to share their dreams. But in YE, students learn that whatever their idea is, whatever their dream is, we’ll find a way to create value for others.”  

Generous donors like Steve fund transformations for YE students. Explore more YE success stories.