The inaugural program is creating the next generation of entrepreneurs.
For the more than 600 GW student mentors and the 800 mentees who participated in Lemonade Day D.C. on Sunday, an ice-cold glass of lemonade was more than just a spring drink – it was the culmination of months of preparation and hard work.
During the last semester, GW students partnered with middle school children from D.C. charter schools, recreational centers and public schools in all eight wards to create a lemonade business from the ground up for D.C.’s inaugural Lemonade Day.
“Everyone I’ve talked to has said there was a need for a program like this,” said sophomore and Lemonade Day D.C. City Director Emily Massel, who proposed the program to the GW School of Business.
“For many of the kids involved, this is a way to set goals and take ownership of the results,” she said.
Lemonade Day was founded in 2007 in Houston and has spread to 36 cities to teach youth the fundamentals of entrepreneurship while fostering financial literacy, responsibility and independence.
After hearing Ms. Massel’s proposal, GWSB’s Assistant Director of Undergraduate Programs David Ruda knew the program was a perfect fit for the First Year Development program (FYDP), a mandatory seminar for incoming business students that combines instructional and experiential learning and focuses on social responsibility.
GWSB also provided transportation and materials for students, in addition to organizing sponsorship opportunities with Arthur and Judith Mintz and Founding Farmers.
Additional support organized through Ms. Massel and the Lemonade D.C. student orgnaization, as well as partnerships with Gallup Chairman and CEO Jim Clifton and Councilmember Kenyan R. McDuffie, include the Student Association, Gallup and the D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation.
“GWSB is at the forefront of this; it would not be the size and scope that it is without them,” Ms. Massel said, noting that guidance from Mr. Ruda and the support of the 16-person directors-team were key to program’s success.
D.C. offers the first Lemonade Day program with a mentoring component, an element that benefits both parties, according to Isabelle Bajeux-Besnainou, associate dean of undergraduate programs.
GW student mentors were a mix of FYDP students, representatives from GW Greek Life, Program Board, the Student Association, GW Department of Athletics and Recreation and others.
All mentors were trained through a series of workshops that reviewed the Lemonade Day materials, an instructional workbook that teaches students how to market a product, advertise, set goals, plan and make a budget.
The student mentors were also instructed in methods to manage a classroom and received training in cultural sensitivity.
Once in the classroom, the mentors worked with the children to build their own businesses. All participants were able to keep the profits, but were taught to “spend a little, save a little and share a little.”
Ms. Massel said that often students wanted to use the money to help their families or give back to community centers they attend.
“After they started the mentoring process, I think students were amazed by how much they enjoyed it,” said Ms. Bajeux-Besnainou. “They were truly surprised with how quickly the children picked up the material.”
After months of preparation, Ms. Massel is proud of the impact of the program, not just on GW students, but on the D.C. community.
“We say that on Lemonade Day, everyone has a job. If you’re not participating and you’re not mentoring, you’re out buying lemonade or interacting with the kids,” she said. “It really is a community event, and we’ve seen that come to fruition in so many different ways.”
With one Lemonade Day down, GWSB is already looking to the future, and according to Mr. Ruda, they hope to partner with other D.C. universities for a larger collaborative effort.
“These are invaluable skills that these kids can carry with them through to their adulthood,” he said.
For more information on how to contribute to Lemonade Day D.C. visit http://dc.lemonadeday.org/donate.