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Twelve-year-old Delaney Green is an entrepreneur and expert in choosing the healthiest oils to blend into her homemade peach and strawberry lip gloss.
She raised start-up capital from her family to manufacture and sell lip gloss, picked up some tips during a school trip to the Center for Small Business Development at Duquesne University, and created her own business card with her partner, Alexis Johnson. .
Both girls are in seventh grade at the Penn Hills Charter School of Entrepreneurship, where students start and run small businesses as part of their daily curriculum beginning in kindergarten.
Delaney and Alexis came up with the idea for D and A’s Style Bowtique when the coronavirus pandemic lockdown made shopping difficult due to store closures and supply chain delays.
In addition to $7 lip gloss, the pair create $8 glass bead bracelets each and colorful fashion hair bows that retail for $5 to $8.
“We deliver to schools and families’ homes,” Delaney says. The students are assembling bracelets in the school’s tech lab, which has equipment for 3D printing, laser engraving, and vinyl printing.
On a recent Monday morning, her classmates brainstormed ideas and worked on projects already underway, such as a warming weighted backpack meant to reduce back pain in its wearers. .
In addition to setting up a business, students are responsible for hiring employees, selling products, and handling returns.
Eighth grader Destiny Fawkes, 14, aspires to be a lawyer and owns a company that offers painting lessons to young children starting at $15 an hour.
“I learned every part of my business here,” says Destiny, who exhibited her work. My work has been exhibited at the Gallery on Center and elsewhere in the Hill District.
“We take the big picture of entrepreneurship,” said Debra Titus, the school’s entrepreneurial education coach. “Our students have confidence, composure, and a level of collaboration that I have never seen in my life.”
Expansion of mission
After operating as a public charter school in Penn Hills School District for over a decade, Penn Hills Charter now plans to share its expertise with other schools in Allegheny and Westmoreland counties. These schools “serve low-income neighborhoods where residents have historically been underrepresented as entrepreneurs,” says Wayne Jones, his CEO of the school.
In December, the Richard King Mellon Foundation awarded $250,000 to Microsociety, Inc., a Philadelphia-based nonprofit that offers a K-6 grade educational model at the Penn Hills Charter School of Entrepreneurship. gave a grant.
The funds will be used to train staff who deliver the curriculum to students and educators in other districts through virtual and in-person learning sessions and events.
MicroSociety said in a news release that its aim is to bring up to three new schools into the network.
“Our expansion will equip more Pittsburgh students with the technical, academic, social, emotional, and career-ready skills they need to succeed in the high-tech, high-skill, high-paying workplaces of the future.” MicroSociety provides us with an exciting opportunity to improve our business,” said Carolyn King-Richmond, President and CEO of MicroSociety.
The non-profit Network For Teaching Entrepreneurship offers programs for 7th and 8th grade students at the Penn Hills Charter School of Entrepreneurship.
The school opened in 2011 in the former Penn Hills Elementary Building in Verona. In 2016, we moved to our existing location on the grounds of another former Penn Hills School District on Main Street. The company leased the 51,000-square-foot facility before buying it for $3 million in 2018.
Currently, there are approximately 450 students in K-12 and management expects over 500 students to attend the school during the 2023-24 school year. We already have a waiting list of 100 people.
“It’s a good question for us,” says Jones. “There is a lot of positive buzz around our school.”
About 80% of enrolled students live in Penn Hills. The rest come from neighboring school districts such as Gateway, Plum, Woodland Hills, Wilkinsburg and Pittsburgh Public Schools. The majority are black students.
To accommodate steady growth, the school is building an 11,000-square-foot extension with a playground, expanded parking, and outdoor lighting.
A $12 million bond issue led by PNC Financial Services Group is funding the project. A $1.5 million Pennsylvania Charter School Program grant is being used for new furniture, equipment, staffing and passenger vans.
When the coronavirus shutdown forced schools to move to distance learning, Penn Hills Charter was ready to offer core subjects virtually, said school principal Jessica Zuk. But delivering entrepreneurship lessons in that format has been more difficult, she says.
In 2021, the Richard King Mellon Foundation’s newly announced strategic plan will focus on ‘economic mobility’ – innovative ways to use education to help people lift themselves out of poverty. Knowing this, the Penn Hills Charter thought it might be eligible for grant funding and invited foundation officials to see the entrepreneurship-focused curriculum.
The charity awarded MicroSociety $250,000 as a pilot to transform MicroSociety’s programs into an online platform that includes virtual banking for student transactions.
The pilot project also received $30,000 from the Heinz Foundation, approximately $21,000 from the Pittsburgh Foundation, and $18,000 from the Grable Foundation.
Pilot programs include building partnerships with local universities, nonprofits, and businesses, such as Duquesne University and the University of Pittsburgh.
In addition to daily class hours dedicated to entrepreneurship, Zuk says the concept is woven into core classes. For example, in English, students apply their letter-writing skills to business.
It also elects representatives of the Student Union to help run the MicroSociety.
Cassidy Johnson, 10, is the current Vice President. Alyah Franklin, 11, is Speaker of the House.
“It feels good to be a leader, especially when you speak,” said fifth graders Araya and Cassidy as they lead visitors on a school tour.
On May 12th, the school will host the 6th Annual Soaring Shark Tank Pitch Competition at Verona’s Greenoaks Country Club.
Seventh and eighth graders from Penn Hills Charter and other schools present five-minute pitches detailing the product, financial and corporate social responsibility elements of their company. Cash prizes will be awarded.
Joyce Gannon is a freelance writer based in Pittsburgh.
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