Eager APCH members have flocked to our Social Enterprise & Entrepreneurship Program, SEE, where they are running their own company called Changemaker$. There, elementary, middle, and high school-aged members are learning how to start their own businesses and fuel their entrepreneurial spirits.The program, spearheaded by Tiffany Huey, is the brainchild of APCH Executive Director, Jonathan Zeichner. The overall goal is to develop skillsets and mindsets in our youth with a focus on financial literacy, creative risk taking, innovation, and marketing, ultimately preparing them for economic independence and empowerment.
Nurturing School Age Entrepreneurs
Our elementary school members learn about entrepreneurship and product development. Middle school members are introduced to more advanced concepts, such as business pitch delivery and digital marketing. And high school members develop their own business ideas, working through ideation, purchasing, production, marketing, and sales.
It’s incredible to see how much these students learn by being exposed to the concept of business.
“Just this week,” says Tiffany, “a few of the middle schoolers were watching Shark Tank and they were surprised that someone was asking for $1 million for a 5 percent stake in her company. A few weeks ago, they had no idea what any of that meant. Now they are thinking about strategies for raising capital and selling a stake in a company - it’s remarkable.”
Putting Business Practices into Practice
The SEE program launched with a partnership with our Gardening program to create a floral enterprise (we’ve catered floral arrangements at events such as a regional conference for The Vatican!) and has grown to include up-cycled, re-cycled, and natural products, such as candles, bath salts, and plantable greeting cards withy flower seeds embedded in the paper.
We’re also building out on-site concessions. APCH hopes to launch a café soon, so our members can make and sell food products such as agua frescas, baked goods, salad dressings, and ice cream in partnership with our Nutrition and Urban Agriculture Department. Most of our food products are made with ingredients harvested from our gardens.
Cultivating Community Partners
In addition to classes and opportunities for our members, we are seeking partnerships with other businesses. We’ve got one right now with Sunlite Industrial Corp, a company that manufactures water toys.
Our members submitted a hundred designs and three were selected for the design on their new line of children’s swim goggles. The company is donating a percentage of goggle sales back to us.
Partnerships and enterprises like this help supplement donations to A Place Called Home and make the organization more financially sustainable.
What’s Next for SEE?
The success of our Social Enterprise & Entrepreneurship program is making a growing impact on our members and their families. APCH is an environment in which our members can freely experiment and take risks.
As our program grows, we hope to offer microloans to encourage our enthusiastic and entrepreneurial youth. For young people who lack access to capital, even the most modest investments are meaningful. It’s exciting to imagine what these kids will do with the opportunities ahead.