Ninth Graders Plunge Head-First into World of Business
Students Create Nonprofit to Benefit Charity
*Editor’s Note: This is the first in several stories following Art Greco’s World of Business class at Ben Franklin Jr. High. City Times staff intends to follow this group of students through the end of the semester.
By Brandi Makuski
Art Greco’s classroom is a quiet one, located near the main office of Ben Franklin Jr. High. Inside, a little less than 20 students meet in small groups to discuss their assignment for the day.
It’s a stressful one for some of the students, but one vital to the class’ overall semester project:: creating a nonprofit organization, raising funds from the community, then donating the money to a local charity.
Why all the nerves? Most students in the class have never asked a stranger for money — even for a good cause.
“It’s a little nerve-wracking,” said ninth-grader Mackenzie Lavin, 14. “I’ve never had to call a business before.”
Greco had students write out a script on Tuesday, and practice how they would address business owners and managers.
“When you start developing relationships with key proponents of the community, you’re going to be calling people you do not know,” Greco told his class. “Nerves are a part of everyday life.”
Making the phone calls is a small step, Greco said, but an essential one because explaining the class project is key.
“How you frame the conversation, the way you talk, is so important,” Greco said.
The ninth graders in his World of Business class — an elective class for eighth and ninth grade students- are charged with creating a nonprofit organization from the ground up, then soliciting donations from area business and community members.
The funds raised will go to benefit one of three local charities.
To determine which local charity the class should choose, Lavin reached out to the City Times in late February to ask for help in gauging community opinion via the weekly City Times online poll. By March 3, a little more than 500 people have cast a vote.
The class is a stepping stone for her, Lavin said, because after high school she plans to attend medical school, and eventually open her own optometry office.
Isaiah Golla, 14, said it’s the first business class he’s taken, and he plans to take similar classes once he reaches SPASH next year. He noted the class project is still in the early stages and they haven’t yet compiled a list of businesses to contact.
“We’re going to be calling any businesses willing to donate to whatever the cause will be,” Golla said.
Golla and Lavin say once the poll closes on March 6, the class will announce its charity and set a fundraising goal, then begin soliciting local businesses for funds.
According to Greco, the class chose to create a nonprofit organization — as opposed to a for-profit business — to build their skills.
“Whether they go into business or not isn’t relevant,” Greco said. “These are skills that these kids will use for the rest of their lives in so many ways.”
To vote in the weekly poll see the City Times’ homepage.