Lindsay Peak (middle school teacher) and Wesley Przybylski (middle school learning innovation coach) write on the middle school money smart class, in which students identify social issues or interests and develop their original ideas into “social startups.” The course culminates in students pitching their startups to potential “investors.”
When choosing their schedules, middle schoolers have the opportunity to explore a variety of electives. A popular choice in the last few years has been the course dubbed “money smart,” where students discover strategies for personal finance, dive into a budgeting challenge, participate in a stock simulations and finally, design their own business. This is not just any business, but rather a social entrepreneurship. A social entrepreneurship is different in that its primary goal is to address or even provide solutions to social issues.
The idea to incorporate social entrepreneurship into the money smart class started because modern-day business is already moving in this direction. Business founders are uncovering the potential in turning to social entrepreneurship as a way to address the concerns of today, a time when consumers are demanding a higher amount of integrity from the products and services being offered.
As part of the exercise, students underwent a design process where they chose an aspect of their community, region or the world that interested them or a social issue that they wanted to address. They developed those ideas and unlocked their creativity as they came forward with radical solutions to social issues.
Students told the story of why they chose their respective business ideas, developed business model canvases and took their first steps towards develop an elevator pitch for potential investors. As a final experience, teachers and administrators from around the school came to a business “Share Fair” where the students pitched their ideas, hoping for support from potential investors.
This project enabled students to explore their passions while applying authentic business model skills and experiencing what it might be like to launch their very own social startup.