Shawnee Shops: Growing Young Entrepreneurs
Pioneer Library System
PLS collaborated with schools and businesses to teach Shawnee students entrepreneurship basics, how businesses work and start thinking about careers. Walking students through a business idea from start to finish, middle schoolers successfully learned how to identify opportunity, produce, pitch and profit from their very own business.
Given that 99% of businesses in Oklahoma are small businesses, PLS sought ways to help youth successfully navigate starting and maintaining one’s own business. Focusing on middle schoolers, PLS created a hands-on, engaging experience for students to explore business and careers. Rather than a lecture, PLS partnered with various organizations to lead a series of classes designed to give kids a personal stake in building, producing, marketing and selling their very own business.
Key Elements of Innovation
PLS partnered with Shawnee Middle School to provide students and build ICAP curriculum, First United Bank to provide grants to cover start-up costs and Gordon Cooper Technology Center to teach business basics. PLS paired students with local business owners in similar fields: a graphic designer helped screen-print t-shirts for one student, an artist helped another create stickers and posters, while UPS helped print. At the end of the series, students sold their goods at a Christmas Market held at the bank.
Students sold goods a total of nearly $3,000 at the market. One pair of students sold out of handmade candles in 30 minutes and another made $600 selling enamel keychains. More than 100 community members attended, including teachers and families supporting students. Younger siblings were excited to be involved in future years. Since then, two additional programs have been planned in other parts of PLS’s service area.