Nationally, teen unemployment is at 16%. These rates are generally higher among minority and/or low-income youth. Many youth jobs programs provide valuable work experience, but are only able to hire, on average, one third of applicants. Entrepreneurship can provide youth from low-income communities with unique opportunities to develop their business skills and abilities. Additionally, meeting entrepreneurs and having an opportunity to help run an actual business can open doors and empower youth to explore new career fields, including self-employment.
Through the support of the Coleman Foundation, the Economic Awareness Council (EAC) features the On the Money program, which provides an entrepreneurship internship program for 15-20 Chicago high school students. These student interns work on the business of the magazine, which focuses on entrepreneurship and financial education and provides youth appropriate information to over 8,000 Chicago Public School students each year.
On the Money interns receive entrepreneurship education based on a combination of the Junior Achievement Company curriculum and custom activities developed by the EAC. Activities include development of key business skills, such as idea generation, marketing, human resources, production, business finances, business writing, and business plan development. On the Money interns are responsible for directing core business activities for the magazine. Interns work in teams to manage key functions such marketing, public relations, production, finance and human resources. The teams develop business ideas at the beginning of each semester and are responsible for executing new projects. Interns are also responsible for production and distribution of On the Money magazine. In addition, interns are mentored by college students and write articles highlighting local entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship concepts. Interns work with mentors throughout the semester, meet entrepreneurs and develop business plans for their own potential ventures.
The interns in the program set the following objectives for the 2014-2015 session of On the Money magazine: to increase circulation; develop and present entrepreneurship education workshops for middle school students; hold entrepreneurship competitions; develop individual business plans; and establish mentoring relationships. During the academic year, On the Money magazine served 27 high school students from 20 Chicago schools. Outcomes include:
- Interns participated in 29 entrepreneurship educations sessions/work meetings.
- Entrepreneurship knowledge increased from 45% correct at pretest to 88% at post test.
- Teams met with 15 entrepreneurs and developed 40 business mentoring relationships.
- Developed 15 pages of entrepreneurship education content for the magazine.
- Published and distributed 8,000 copies of the magazine to over 300 community sites (schools, libraries, youth employment sites and non-profit organizations).
- Published entrepreneurship educational content for True Star magazine, which reached 30,000 youth.
- Presented 9 educational workshops, two webinars and hosted 3 business plan competitions.
- Created an entrepreneurship education video that will be released during fall 2015. Interns participated in the selection of the video production company, development of the script, selection of entrepreneurs to interview and participated in the video as narrators.
- Interns helped launch a new branch of On the Money magazine in St. Louis in partnership with the People’s Action Corporation. They participated in the launch of this new magazine by helping to shape the curriculum and preparing presentations and press releases.
On the Money Interns are making an impact!
Comments from a former On the Money Entrepreneurship Intern and current student at Beloit College:
“When I first started in On the Money, I just believed that there were not many effective business owners. After the knowledge I have gained with On the Money, I have learned that owning your own business can be effective, but you have to put in the work. … I have gained many experiences from: learning about entrepreneurship, being able to give ideas to the library, learning about human resources …, building lifelong connections, and even enhancing my writing skills. On the Money has provided me with opportunities that I will never forget and always appreciate.” Joanie Wiley
Comments from a student attending an entrepreneurship education event.
“Looking back upon the education I have received, the most critical lesson I have learned was to keep pushing when times get rough…Throughout my experience, I have heard stories of trials and tribulations people faced when they decided to take the risk to become an entrepreneur. After attending the conference at Harold Washington Library … I was inspired by words from … the entrepreneurs on the panel. Along with giving valuable feedback on how to begin a business and keep it running, they also added in relevant life lessons. I was inspired to rid myself from stress and fear that I will not succeed in entrepreneurship. Those words impacted my life by giving me the strength to achieve my goals and aspirations that I have set for myself…” Alexis Murillo, attendee of the Young Chicago Saves conference entrepreneurship panel and breakout workshop.