Teenagers from across Birmingham have been awarded almost £2,000 towards community projects after successfully pitching their ideas to a panel of business leaders.

The youngsters were taking part in the Pitch 4 Change event at Austin Court in Birmingham which was organised by charity Envision as part of a national £280,000 Truth About Youth project sponsored by the Co-operative Foundation aimed at changing negative perceptions about young people.

To win the grants, the young people from schools across the city pitched their ideas and were then grilled by a panel that included Jessica Moore from vinspired, Pauline Knott from PwC, Jem Hodson from Life Agency, Damian Carvill from Packt Publishing and Birmingham Post editor Alun Thorne.

In the lead up to the event, each Envision team visited the offices of marketing agency Life whose staff volunteered their time to mentor the young people on their pitches, PowerPoints and public speaking.

The projects included:

* The Envision team from St Paul’s School for Girls based their project around the Help for Heroes campaign. They planned to create personalised gift bags for the returning solders in Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

They have already visited the hospital to find out what items the soldiers would appreciate and are currently fundraising through a knit-athon and other community events to collate the bags.

The Dragons awarded the team with £150 upfront towards the bags and also banked a further £150 should the team manage to secure the support of other pupils at the school and the community.

* Joseph Chamberlain’s College’s Envision team have been tackling the issue of racism and pitched their idea of putting on a cross-culture event at their college in Highgate.

They proposed to the Dragons their idea of displaying a number of vibrant cultures through food, music and drama with the aim of bringing different cultures together.

The Dragons loved the idea an offered £150 upfront with an extra £250 available should they be able to widen their project to allow members of the local community to attend.

* Archbishop Ilsley School pitched their ideas to tackle the controversial issue of human trafficking through a documentary.

The Dragons awarded the team £250 solely for their documentary and a further £235 to raise awareness through posters and flyers. Jessica Moor, head of business at V and acting Dragon also offered to mentor the team as she has a personal interest in the issue.

* King Edwards VI Camp Hill Girls’ team really wowed the judges with their plans of a sensory garden for a local care home for the elderly.

After visiting the home, the team came up with a plan to create a sensory garden for the residents which would leave a lasting legacy for the home and the local community.

The Dragons gave the team £400 upfront with £100 in the bank should they get the community more involved, particularly local businesses.

* The final pitch from the Envision team at Arthur Terry School was commended for being innovative with fresh thinking, and the idea of using Facebook to raise awareness was met with enthusiasm.

The team’s aims were to bridge the gap between 20 young people and 20 elderly people and rid them of any stereotypes.

The Dragons liked the idea so much that they requested a more detailed plan, encompassing a larger number of people.

They too were awarded £400 with a further £100 in the bank in accordance with the developments the panel suggested.

Jamie Berry, marketing manager for Life, said: “As an organisation we were really keen to support the Pitch 4 Change event through mentoring teams of students.

“We really value the importance of developing young people’s aspirations and skills and the mentoring sessions have also given our staff a chance to volunteer as inspirational skills mentors.

“It has also been a real learning opportunity for us, taking us out of our day-to-day work and it is a real pleasure to be working with such enthusiastic creative and community spirited young people.”

Envision chief executive Andrew Dick added: “This is a great example of the way charities and business can work together – the young people not only get the funds

to improve their communities, but also learn a lot about the professional world and business skills that will help them succeed.”