May 24, 2023 by HCDE Communications
Students from afterschool programs across Harris County gathered to unleash their financial prowess and unlimited creativity at the Center for Afterschool, Summer, and Enrichment for Kids (CASE for Kids) 2023 Kids’ Entrepreneurship Market Day.
Nearly 100 students were welcomed at HCDE’s North Post Oak building on May 20 to promote their businesses and sell their products. The event, the culmination of a 7-week entrepreneurship project, provides hands-on instruction about money management, business, and entrepreneurship to students in a dozen CASE-funded afterschool programs.
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Guided by CASE for Kids Site Coordinator Andrew Milburn, fourth-grade students Ashley Garcia and Charlotte Infante from the Promise Community School at Ripley House team worked to create a good or service for future customers. Collaboration and compromise took center stage as the group worked to narrow down their initial list of nearly 30 ideas.
“Mr. Andrew had us brainstorm a bunch of ideas, and we started pressing them out one by one,” said Infante. “Our first idea was a station to make tie-dye shirts, but then we landed on a skee-ball game. We really liked that idea.”
As they delved deeper into the realities of entrepreneurship, the team quickly understood the dedication and hard work required to transform an idea into a thriving business.
“We flattened out several boxes and used a lot of glue and paper to make the game,” said Garcia. “We had limited supplies and ran out of some yellow paper. We all worked together, but it took a long time.”
Throughout the product development phase, Milburn educated students on financial literacy and entrepreneurial concepts. He explained the history of money, economic markets, and how to create and maintain a budget.
“It’s been a joy watching them learn about teamwork and develop the freedom to pick their own roles and responsibilities,” said Milburn. “I’ve watched them coach each other into leadership roles and hold others accountable when needed. Some of them truly have an entrepreneurial mindset.”
Before businesses could open their stands on Market Day, teams had to apply for a loan and obtain a business license at a booth staffed by community partner PNC Bank. Teams applying for business licenses included companies selling an array of merchandise, including body butter, key chains, and shirts, and services like an exercise boot camp.
Representatives from the bank informed students about the loan application process and interviewed each group about their business plan, business owners, and the amount of equity each student held. When answered correctly, students were issued a business license.
Each company also selected a marketing coordinator to deliver a business pitch to attendees. This allowed a student from each team to write a persuasive speech, hone public speaking skills, and promote their product.
Once the market opened, store employees managed inventory and learned lessons in customer service and practical mathematics. For Garcia, the experience proved to be exciting.
“I got to be the cashier! I like math, so it was fun to count all the money,” she said. “I learned the customer is always right, except when they aren’t!”
Selling was not the only goal of the day. The young entrepreneurs were also able to participate as consumers. Students who attended the afterschool program earned “wages” for their contributions to the project that could be used as currency in the market. Students were limited to a budget of $140 and were required to log their expenses.
Among the shoppers at the Kids’ Day Entrepreneurship event was CASE for Kids Senior Director Lisa Caruthers, Ph.D., who purchased a tie-dye shirt, salt scrub, keychain, and a session with a personal trainer.
“I’m impressed by our students’ ability to run a successful mock business,” said Caruthers. “Through this experience, they have learned financial literacy skills and became inspired about entrepreneurship. More importantly, participation in the Entrepreneurship Market Day project keeps our youth engaged after school and provides a safe environment to explore new interests.”
Also in attendance was local entrepreneur Tyla-Simone Crayton, a teen CEO and founder featured on ABC’s “Shark Tank” for her product, Sienna Sauce. Crayton was invited to participate in a Q&A session with students and spoke about the importance of never giving up on dreams.
“I didn’t see young people running a business when I was a kid, so getting a chance to show these kids the possibility means a lot to me,” said Crayton. “I want them to surround themselves with supportive people and go after their goals relentlessly.”
At the end of the day, each team completed a profit and loss statement to assess their business’s success. CASE for Kids leaders determined the Kids’ Day Entrepreneurship event winners based on factors such as profit, marketing, and overall performance.
Promise Community School at Ripley House earned the Most Innovative Award as the only entertainment business at the market.
“It takes a lot of teamwork and people, but it was fun learning how to start a business and using the materials around us to create something awesome,” said Infante.
Winners of Kids’ Entrepreneurship Market Day
Top Seller: Alief Middle School
People’s Choice: Cobb 6th Grade Campus
Most Innovative: Promise Community School at Ripley House
Best Marketing & Advertising: George I. Sanchez High School (South)
Best Customer Services: Killough Middle School
Social Impact: Clear Creek Intermediate
Best Teamwork: Ross Sterling High School
To learn more about CASE for Kids, visit www.hcde-texas.org/afterschoolzone.