World of Business focuses on those in need
This holiday season, a dozen students in Ben Franklin Junior High School’s World of Business class are opening their eyes to the world around them and finding with a little focus, some care and a lot of hard work, they can make a difference.
“It’s winter, and going into Christmas we wanted to give back to the homeless,” said Miranda Rusin.
Teacher Art Greco gave the students the option at the beginning of the school year to learn about business through more standard lessons – lectures, writing papers, taking tests – or through experience. The 12 students chose the latter.
The students’ decided to learn about business by creating one that would raise money for the Salvation Army of Portage County’s Hope Center. The students set their goal at $1,500 with the last donation day set for Jan. 11, 2017. A third of the funds they hoped to gain through internal (school-related) fundraisers scheduled in November through mid-December.
The week before the presidential election, they tried an election jar campaign whereby students and staff were welcome to put donations into the jar with the name of the presidential candidate that person supported. Surprisingly, they said, it didn’t go over as well as they thought, though they raised $50.
“It was a good start up, but it wasn’t what we anticipated,” said Leah Ernest, so the group changed tactics. A bake sale was next, and it did so well that they decided to extend it. The first week alone, they raised $385.
This week students moved into the second phase, in which they are contacting area businesses trying to get donations matching the totals they raised in-house. The goal is 10 willing businesses, they said.
They also are embarking on marketing campaigns, public relations and social media blitzes. They planned to contact newspapers, radio stations and send mass emails letting the community know about their efforts and the hopes of raising money for a good cause.
“There’s a lot more in it than meets the eye,” Ernest said, adding that at the beginning of the year the students wrote a paper about business terms and how a business works.
“It seemed like it would be a breeze,” she said, “but you come into class and things aren’t working and you have to figure that out
with what you’re doing next.”
“You definitely learn to work together,” Rusin said. “You really rely on other people to do their jobs, and there’s so much more work to do outside (of class) to get it to work well.”
The students are learning business concepts like supply and demand (what interests people enough to “buy” something and can they deliver it: example, food); marketing strategies (how and who to target and what is the best way to do that); and teamwork.
They discovered more about the Salvation Army than they ever knew – students were surprised that poverty and homelessness is as high as it is in Stevensd Point – and they also are learning a little bit more about themselves and their own abilities, they said.
“I knew if I did it, it would take me out of my shell,” said Conner Kowalski, and get higher self-esteem. The beginning of the year I could tell I hardly did anything and now I’m doing a lot – Mr. Greco says too much.”
The group has all kind of banned together, too, forming bonds and friendships they never thought they would.
“We’re like a little family of 12,” Ernest said.
All aiming for the same goal, all providing different ideas on how to get there, all working to fix a problem or reroute when a plan derails, and all working together to come up with the best plan to get where they want to go.
In this case, it is to help those less fortunate, and it’s a goal they have in mind every day.
“It just really stinks that this is only a semester class,” Ernest said. “Think of what we could do in a whole year.”
Anyone who would like to can donate to World of Business Homeless Project, care of Art Greco at Ben Franklin Junior High School, 2000 Polk St., Stevens Point, WI 54481.