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Kids turn lemonade into new business


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Eastside Community Center staff want to help local children turn lemonade into fun and profit this May under a first-time program that also will develop skills in math, goal-setting, customer service and problem solving.

Lemonade Day, based on a national program, will involve children working with adult mentors. They will develop a business plan, seek investors and go through a series of business lessons to plan details such as what their stand will look like, how to make the lemonade and what they will charge.

Participants will be required to divide proceeds in three ways: to pay back their investors, to give a portion to charity and to use some for fun or whatever they like.

“It’s a hands-on program that teaches children how to start, own and operate a business,” said Priscilla Scalf, Eastside’s executive director.

What is Lemonade Day?

What: Program where children seek sponsors and work with volunteer mentors to plan and set up lemonade stands.

Why: To teach them educational and life lessons, earn money and donate funds to charities of their choice.

For: Children age 6 and up

Business support: Organizers seeking financial sponsorships, between $500 to $10,000. Locations also needed for children to set up lemonade stands.

When: May 18. Event kickoff will be in March, exact date to be determined.

Organizer: Eastside Community Center, 421 McClure Road

Sign up: www.eastcc.org, 376-7840

Information: www.lemonadeday.org

Eastside staff are seeking financial sponsors, mentors and children ages 6 and older who would like to be involved. They hope the youth-focused education effort, scheduled for May 18, will become an annual event.

Mentors will guide elementary-age children through the process step by step with the preparation and sales day teaching them a variety of personal and educational lessons.

Once children sign up, they will go through lessons that should take about one month, Scalf said.

Scalf said time-management, self-confidence and developing social responsibility are part of the project, as well as gaining financial literacy and encouraging entrepreneurship.

Organizers said children can choose how involved they want to be. A stand can be a simple table and basic lemonade, or an elaborate, handmade stand with specialty lemonade with such flavors as strawberry, kiwi or blueberry.

Eastside staff are seeking financial assistance through grants or business sponsorships to pay for the $5,000 licensing fee to be able to use the national materials and resources. Sponsorship levels range from $500 to $10,000.

Additional funds are needed for the $4-per-child cost to cover workbooks and backpacks, plus materials for special events planned for the children.

Mentors are needed to work with children, as well as businesses and other organizations willing to allow children to have a lemonade stand set up in front of their location, Scalf said. Children also can set up in their neighborhoods.

Jack Hess, executive director of the Institute for Coalition Building and former president of the Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce, has agreed to serve as champion for the program and will speak to children at a kickoff event. Afterward, there will be an awards program. Dates have not been set for either of these events.

Scalf said other communities have seen great interest in the program. Bloomington, in its second year, had 250 children participate last year.

Sean Bledsoe, a staff member at Eastside who is helping coordinate the Lemonade Day launch here, said he has a niece in Indianapolis who sought $57 from investors her first year and $182 the second year, when she made more than $1,000. She had a stand set up in the busy Castleton Square Mall on the northeast side of Indianapolis.

Bledsoe said his niece upgraded her stand and product the second year and advertised early to her friends, church and businesses, which helped generate additional sales.

Local organizers, who have been spreading the word about the program through leaders of local youth groups, said they would not be surprised if 200 Columbus children signed up, based on their initial discussions with children and adults.

Scalf said children as young as 6 and as old as high school age have expressed interest.

“We really feel it can be successful here,” Bledsoe said.

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