On the latest episode of Giving Ventures, host and DonorsTrust Vice President Peter Lipsett talks with Nicole Cassier-Mason, CEO of Lemonade Day and Connor Boyack, founder and president of Libertas Institute.
Promoting ‘Growth Mindset’ with Lemonade Stand
Both guests talk about the importance of helping kids build their entrepreneurial skills, something that will serve them throughout their life and the skills they likely won’t learn in a public-school environment without some help from Lemonade Stand and other nonprofits like it.
“It’s that beautiful, innovative hybrid model that really combines STEM, social-emotional learning and project-based education to bring the spirit of entrepreneurship and that important growth mindset in our children all by way of a lemonade stand,” says Nicole of the nonprofit.
Lemonade Day was launched in 2007 by Michael Holthouse, a Houston-based entrepreneur and investor, after his daughter failed to run her own successful lemonade stand intended to fund a turtle farm. Michael set out to help her and other kids set up successful business ventures.
‘Lemonade Day’ App Enhances Educational Experience
Not only does the nonprofit helps kids in towns across the country start their own old-fashioned lemonade stand—the charity is keeping up with the times, too, as it has an app that makes the experience more accessible to those in rural communities and creates another sales dimension.
“It creates a new revenue source for Lemonade Day because, while the learning content will always remain free, through the technology, we can create some in-app purchase experiences to unlock a deeper journey for children while creating another revenue source for the company…”
For those in cities where Lemonade Day operates, the app lets parents and teachers create mentor profiles and add students to their Lemonade Day roster. It also lets learners create and budget for their stand so they know what they need to make to break even and, ultimately, make a profit.
Is the Stand a Lemon? Measuring Lemonade Day Success
Lemonade Day staff survey mentors and learners before and after Lemonade Day to gauge whether students walked away from the experience with valuable skills. What’s more, Lemonade Day Board Chair Joe Daly is a senior partner at Gallup and knows how to measure success.
“[Joe] speaks our love language around measuring impact and measuring those [key-performance indicators] and so we’re able to align our data with Gallup data to compare what Lemonade Day children are experiencing versus their non-participating peers,” says Nicole.
The results so far are astounding, with a 93% increase in communication skills, confidence and self-esteem, says Nicole, adding that Lemonade Day stand students are hosting business ventures at three times the rate of their non-Lemonade Day peers.
“So, we’re able to leverage the data that Gallup collects and compare that against our own kiddos and show that there’s a vast rise in awareness of their own aptitudes and harnessing that light because we focus on kindergarten through eighth-grade students for a reason…”
Children’s Entrepreneur Market ‘Very Family Centric’
Connor six years ago got the idea to create the Children’s Entrepreneur Market, a project of the Libertas Institute, after he saw headlines about kids whose lemonade stands get kept getting shut down by local governments because the kids lacked a business license.
“This is basically like a farmer’s market but it is run entirely by the kids. So, mom and dad can help set up, they take down, but the kids are doing the business plan. They’re organizing, they’re setting the price, they’re interacting with the customers,” says Connor.
The Libertas Institute is a Utah-based think tank founded in 2011 to “change hearts, minds, and laws to build a freer society by creating and implementing innovative policy reforms and exceptional educational resources,” according to its website.
The Children’s Market in particular hinges on whole-family involvement, says Connor, adding that Libertas provides books and a curriculum but that parental participation and oversight is critical for the programming to succeed.
“This is a very family centric program. There are various programs out there that do things with the schools. Ours is—we want mom and dad involved. We think that’s—when you have families involved, you’re going to get ongoing application of the lessons that you’re teaching.”
‘Profit Motive’ Becomes ‘Greatest Teacher’
Moreover, the program incorporates ideas from the widely popular Tuttle Twins, a cartoon series designed to teach children about economic and political theory, and endeavors to not only build out kids’ practical business skills but create for kids a solid understanding of economic theory.
“We have a whole free-market curriculum for kids to learn about the economic way of thinking and how to understand how the world works. So, we’re leaning into that a little bit more. We’re hoping in the future to build out even more curriculum and business-plan type of support.”
Mostly, though, the program centers around three hours on a Saturday morning and the market experience students get from operating their lemonade stand, which bring in an average of $60 for those that participate in the program.
“We let the profit motive be the primary teacher because when these kids see how well—the traditional lemonade stand—you spend 90% of your time flagging cars down and hoping someone will stop,” says Connor.
“Our markets—we bring over a thousand people from the public. So, it’s non-stop foot traffic. So, these kids are just hustling the entire time—make a lot of money. That becomes the greatest teacher more than if we sit them down and have [the kids] do a little lesson beforehand.”
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