By Carolyn Kipp
Yes, you read that right. The Mansfield High School Entrepreneurship class gave the Mansfield Education Foundation (MEF) $750 back, which was the amount awarded to them last September by the Foundation.
The class used the funds as seed money to establish their own businesses. When asked why they decided to donate the money back to MEF, Business and Technology teacher Jacqueline Prester said, “My vision was to have the students learn first-hand about running a business and a big part of that is being philanthropic and giving back to the local community”.
The entrepreneurship program was so successful that money was not only donated back to MEF but donations were made to Hearts for Hope ($250), Mansfield Food Pantry ($150), and Mansfield Relay for Life ($250). On top of this, the class was left with an earned $1,200 to continue the program again next year.
Ms. Prester explained the program and how the MEF grant helped them. “The Entrepreneurship class teaches students about what is takes to run a business. Students came up with business proposals that were presented to classmates and voted upon. Once the class decided which business to pursue, they designed their products, planned a marketing campaign, sold their products, and analyzed their finances.
Students also decided, as a class, where to donate a portion of their proceeds. These students did a fantastic job with this project and were extremely successful. I am so proud of these students and what they were able to accomplish. We hit some snags along the way, but that is par for the course with such a new endeavor.
It did not deter the students and they continued on, showing that they also possess excellent problem-solving skills. The grant provided to us really allowed the students to have an authentic learning experience in the Entrepreneurship class”.
Two trimesters of students participated in establishing their own businesses. The first trimester students decided to sell Mansfield wristbands for $3 each. “Being enthusiastic contributed to our success” said sophomore Cliff Emmanuel who participated in the class. “It gave us a head start for what we needed.” Ms. Prester noted that in three days the wristbands sold out and they had to order more.
Sophomore Erin McCarthy from the second trimester said a lesson learned was that “selling less expensive items paid off rather than trying to sell fewer more expensive items”. Her class sold two types of Mansfield car decals, for $3 each.
Last year, MEF gave away $10,000 in grants to seven educators. MEF is a 501(c)3 (non-profit) charity foundation dedicated to funding innovation in education separate from the School Committee and school budget. When speaking with MEF Director Linda Fernando, who received the funds back in person by Ms. Prester, she said, “I was totally surprised and completely overwhelmed. To think that money was raised by community members, used by community members and then given back again by community members is beyond paying it forward. If anything, it makes me so proud to be part of MEF knowing that as a community we can really make a difference in so many ways”.
As for the future of the Entrepreneurship program, teacher Ms. Prester announced, “We’ll hopefully be able to keep rolling it forward year after year. Each new trimester brings a new set of students with new ideas. The businesses they create will allow us to give more back to the community, while also raising money for future students to participate in the same program”.
To learn more about MEF, visit to www.MansfieldEducationFoundation.org