MICHIGAN CITY — Three young, local entrepreneurs got a kickstart to opening their businesses last week after they were awarded grants in almost the exact amounts of money each needed to get started.

William Hanyard, a 2018 Michigan City High School graduate, is an Indiana State University sophomore with aspirations of launching his own clothing line.

Donning a hooded sweatshirt he’d altered in order to showcase his own personal style, Hanyard presented his business plan in the community room at the Michigan City Police Department on March 13.

His brand, For the Hood LLC, would honor his upbringing and aim to inspire other teens struggling to break the cycle of becoming a high school dropout and living in poverty.

“This represents me, coming from a broken home, finding a way out and never losing faith,” Hanyard said. “… I love my family, but I didn’t like the way we were living so I wanted to change it for us and for other young people growing up around here.”

He estimated it would cost just over $1,000 to purchase the equipment and supplies he needs to begin producing his current designs and taking custom orders.

Cousins De’Onna Fields and Tamiyah Moore, 2016 MCHS grads, also presented their plan for opening a preschool and 24-hour childcare facility.

Mighty Minds Academy was inspired by Moore’s 2-year-old son, Lee.

“He is so energetic, so hands-on, so smart, so teachable,” she said. “He catches onto things almost instantly, and I feel like we could teach other kids the same skills.”

Moore currently attends Ivy Tech Community College and Works at Four Winds Casino.

Fields has a degree in child development from Vincennes University, and has worked as an online teacher and in elder care.

The two said they have been searching for the right facility to fit their business needs, but that they have saved up money for supplies and have secured equipment donations from family members who have owned daycare facilities in the past.

They estimated they were just over $2,000 away from being able to open Mighty Minds.

Initially, the plan was to award just one business a $3,000 grant from the Love the Game (LTG) Foundation, founded by professional basketball player and Michigan City native Jarrod Jones.

But because Mighty Minds Academy and For the Hood LLC were the only applicants and their needs totaled about $3,000, both businesses split the winnings of the inaugural Black Business Kickstart Competition, a collaboration between LTG and the Michigan City Commission on the Social Status of African-American Males.

“I believe everyone will leave this competition a step closer to fulfilling their vision,” said Jones in a letter to the applicants.

Jones plays professional basketball in Turkey and was unable to attend the check presentation; so his parents, John and Gerry Jones, stood in his place.

“The purpose of the competition was to get the youth in our community to step out of your comfort zone and … apply yourself,” he continued.

Each applicant was tasked with conducting market research, creating a business plan and making the public presentation.

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