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Students Build Businesses through Market Makers

Daniel Levitt

Daniel Levitt is the Program Director, Financial Literacy at ExpandED Schools.

ExpandED Schools works with community partners to provide high quality financial literacy education to middle school students through our Market Makers entrepreneurship initiative. Students participating in Market Makers clubs learn important lessons about budgeting, borrowing, and marketing as they design and execute their own business. For most middle school students, who are too young to have a job, these kinds of life-long financial lessons can be difficult to fully grasp when they do not yet have their own money to manage. Market Makers uses entrepreneurship as an opportunity for middle schoolers to learn financial concepts while making real business decisions. This past year, thanks to support from our corporate partners at Con Edison, Macquarie and Neuberger Berman, ExpandED worked with community based organizations at six schools to support seven student businesses that sold everything from backpacks to t-shirts to edible slime. 

In addition to building successful businesses, Market Makers students built confidence and strong interest in entrepreneurship. Market Makers students were more likely than students nationwide to agree with all four entrepreneurship statements from the Gallup Student Poll, including “I will invent something that changes the world” and “I am learning how to run a business.” 

Market Makers students also grew their knowledge, comfort, andinterest in the program’s eight target areas, such as “I feel comfortable talking about business with adults” and “In the future I will open a savings account”.

This year, Market Makers students also benefited from two Shark Tank events generously hosted by Macquarie and Neuberger Berman. Students benefitted from the opportunity to visit a corporate office setting, present their businesses for feedback from corporate experts, and be inspired by the business ideas of their peers from other schools.  

All but one of our after-school educators this year were brand new to Market Makers and started the year off doubting their abilities to lead the program; however, through one-on-one support and group trainings, ExpandED helped educators address their concerns and learn to confidently lead instructional activities on financial literacy and entrepreneurship. One of our Market Makers educators was so inspired by the work she was leading that she started her own business!

We’re excited to continue growing the Market Makers program this coming year, expanding both the number of participating schools and the ways in which volunteers can be involved. We are seeking corporate partners, entrepreneurs, and small business owners who would like to work with our Market Makers clubs to provide real world expertise and inspire our students as they grow into young entrepreneurs. Volunteers can lead financial literacy workshops, host a Shark Tank or field trip at their place of business, or advise a specific Market Makers club as a business coach. To learn more about how you can support Market Makers as a corporate partner or individual volunteer, please contact Bryn Canner, Senior Director of Development, bcanner@expandedschools.org

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