Introducing kids to entrepreneurial concepts helps them with critical-thinking and problem-solving skills.
If you’re old enough to open a lemonade stand in your front yard, it’s time to consider a future as an entrepreneur.
That’s the philosophy behind a financial literacy program created by Mid-Continent Public Library (MCPL) and a group of partner organizations, including the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, KCSourceLink and the University of Missouri-Kansas City Office of Financial Literacy.
Your Piece of the Pie
Your Piece of the Pie introduces fourth- through sixth-grade students to the problem/solution business model with the children’s picture book "Sweet Potato Pie" by Kathleen D. Lindsey. In the book, a turn-of-the-19th-century African American family finds a creative solution to save the family farm during a withering drought. During the program’s four hour-long classroom sessions, students:
- Learn vocabulary and concepts behind entrepreneurship
- Meet a local entrepreneur
- Develop a product or service that solves a problem in their school community
“If we’re going to be the most entrepreneurial community in the nation, you have to start with kids,” said MCPL Business Specialist Morgan Perry. Perry, one of three specialists who assist and provide programming to entrepreneurs and small businesses in the Kansas City area, says, “You can’t talk about creating an entrepreneurial ecosystem unless you imagine what it will be in 10 years.”
The program came out of discussions on how to bring financial literacy programming to elementary students, especially those in Title 1 schools where a majority of students receive free or reduced-price meals and whose communities might benefit from entrepreneurial problem solving.
“They learn to look at the natural resources, community resources, the community issues and a problem that needs to be solved,” Perry said. “Then they come up with a solution to the problem that makes money.”
Launched in fall 2015, Your Piece of the Pie started in 20 classrooms in the Kansas City area. This spring it will be in 30 classrooms.
How it works
Teachers are matched with business volunteers, and both receive training on the curriculum. (The program training and materials are provided by the partner organizations.)
For its part, MCPL provides each classroom with a copy of "Sweet Potato Pie" and a video that introduces students to young entrepreneurs already working in their communities.
The group, Perry said, is looking at creating both homeschool and library versions of the program to reach even more kids. Introducing younger kids to the critical thinking that it takes to create problem-solving products and services ramps up the kind of entrepreneurial experiences they can take once they get to high school.
One group of students created a prototype for tennis shoes with pockets and slots that could carry pens, pencils and erasures.
“We have to start this discussion earlier,” Perry said, “so by the time you get to high school you’re ready for a real challenge.”