BY STEVEN GORDON, LEMONADE DAY NATIONAL PRESIDENT
As an educator — not only as the president of Lemonade Day, but as the president of the board of trustees for a private school in Houston — it is no secret I’m already a huge advocate of including youth entrepreneurship programs as part of the school curriculum and within youth group programs. I’m proud of what Lemonade Day has accomplished since 2007; however, I am concerned that COVID-19 is impacting our children’s ability to excel with online and blended-learning classrooms that were implemented this spring and will most likely continue for the foreseeable future. We are all wondering how this might have a long-term effect on high school graduation, job creation, earning potential, and, ultimately, our economy. Fortunately, we are never going to stop creating innovative solutions for our kids, and I know many others are as committed as we are.
From the World Economic Forum to the Kauffman Foundation, the message from our world’s leading minds is the same: We need creative, inventive, entrepreneurial thinkers to lead the way in solving some of the most troubling social and economic problems facing our nation and, in fact, the world. I believe that this pandemic is going to widen the socioeconomic gap if we cannot ignite an entrepreneurial spirit within our young minds.
Lemonade Day helps kids learn the basics of entrepreneurship and finance in a fun, experiential way, empowering them with the tools to create their own opportunities. My current goals for the Lemonade Day organization are the same today as they were when I joined the organization: to build on the existing curriculum; seek and involve national sponsors, youth organizations and donors; add additional cities to our program; and continue supporting current communities to reach more children.
Instructing young people about entrepreneurship is a solution that is consistently said to be the best way to create more and better jobs. The key is making sure the business lessons are being taught so students know how to start and run a business. Programs like Lemonade Day make academic lessons relevant, encourage school completion, promote active authorship of kids’ own lives and set the foundation for future success.
The Gallup-HOPE Index is a nationally representative survey of America’s fifth through 12th graders. In 2016, only 43% of students in the Gallup-HOPE Index agreed that their school offered classes on how to start and run a business. This means that over half of American school children are not receiving these important lessons in the classroom. Also, a study by the Small Business Administration found that millennials, the youngest group included in their survey, have decreasing rates of entrepreneurship compared to Generation X and Baby Boomers, which could have major economic implications. Now, more than ever, these data points indicate the increasing level of importance of an entrepreneurial curriculum to prepare young people to be the business leaders of tomorrow.
Our children are our future, but if only half of them are being taught entrepreneurial skills, how can we transform their lives and help our economy recover from this pandemic? I’ve been collaborating with Congresswoman Grace Meng on her 21st Century Youth Entrepreneurship Act, H.R. 5253. She is working diligently to educate her colleagues on supporting youth entrepreneurship legislation that funds programs to ensure our youth harness their entrepreneurial spirit. I applaud Congresswoman Meng for her efforts, and I encourage other elected officials to consider some form of entrepreneurship learning within our educational systems. We need to inspire our youth to become the business leaders, social advocates, community volunteers and forward-thinking citizens of tomorrow.
I’ve often quoted our great friend, Jim Clifton, chairman and CEO of Gallup. During a recent conversation with Jim about youth entrepreneurship education and the current state of our economy, Jim shared these words: “Lemonade Day’s only purpose today is to grow a monster entrepreneurial spirit in every child because they will then build the way out of massive economic destruction caused by COVID. The kids in our programs have to literally rebuild America. Our kids have to save this country — and the world.”
It’s a great honor to be part of a movement that helps develop an entrepreneurial mindset in children. We will continue our mission and invite everyone to join us!
For anyone interested in registering children for free, you can do so by visiting https://lemonadeday.org/find-your-city. If you are not in a Lemonade Day city, you can participate through our Raising Cane's partnership by visiting https://lemonadeday.org/raising-canes. Kids can access the Lemonopolis online lesson program from any device anytime from anywhere. Please check out www.lemonadeday.org for information and updates and follow us on our social media platforms!
I welcome your comments, questions and suggestions. Please send me an email at any time at email@example.com.
In the meantime, stay great and stay safe!