Look out “Shark Tank.” Ten New Jersey schools will celebrate Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) this month with a series of workshops and events designed to teach children entrepreneurship in a hands-on way.
The November events will be part of more than 35,000 events in 170 countries and will see students in grades 4-8 launching real businesses before their communities.
Organized by the Global Entrepreneurship Network, a collaboration of governments, nonprofits, researchers, and investors, GEW is a celebration of the innovators and job creators who bring ideas to life, launch businesses, and drive economic growth. Designed to inspire people everywhere, one week each November is dedicated to catalyzing potential entrepreneurs of all ages, genders, and races.
For upper elementary and middle school students in New Jersey, GEW provides good timing for a program already in use by over 150 schools, including all ten of the schools celebrating this month. The program these schools are using is called TREP$, short for entrepreneurs. This project-based learning curriculum incorporates New Jersey’s required career-readiness practices to teach kids the basics of small business ownership. After a series of lessons, the program culminates with an event-based “pop-up” marketplace where the students launch their businesses for a real profit or loss. The program has earned the New Jersey PTA’s Champion for Children Award and the Excellence in Entrepreneurial Education Award from the Consortium for Entrepreneurship Education.
Three of the schools with scheduled GEW events have been using the TREP$ program since its inception. Paradise Knoll School of Oak Ridge, Marian McKeown School of Hampton, and Walter T. Bergen School of Bloomingdale were the first schools to pilot the curriculum.
“We’ve offered TREP$ for over 10 years because we have seen first-hand the value in helping kids see entrepreneurship as a career choice,” said Hampton teacher Tunya Heater-Kyzer. “We are thrilled to be hosting our annual Marketplace on November 22 as part of Global Entrepreneurship Week.”
Paradise Knoll School teacher Melissa Keil feels the same way.
“We value TREP$ because it allows students the opportunity to be creative and develop business skills. When we feel the energy in the room and see the excitement on the students’ faces, we realize the program’s value,” Keil said.
Her school will be holding its 15th TREP$ Marketplace on November 22 as well.
Katharine D. Malone School of Rockaway is new to TREP$, with their inaugural marketplace scheduled for November 21. Principal Melissa Lewis decided to use it for the first time this year out of a desire for students to be exposed to entrepreneurship, to learn essential life skills, and to practice innovation. She reports that she is already seeing the benefits.
“I have witnessed growth in the students academically, socially, and emotionally as they grow their businesses,” Lewis said.
The co-founders of TREP$ are life-long New Jersey residents and former teachers Pamela deWaal and Hayley Romano.
“We are so excited to be participating in Global Entrepreneurship Week. These ten schools have shown a true commitment to instilling entrepreneurial thinking and career-readiness in children. We are proud to be part of the global entrepreneurship community,” Romano said. She and deWaal will be attending as many of the November events as they can to show their support.
Sussex Middle School also will host an event in November.