Centered on budding entrepreneurs across the country and the programs created to foster their interest and understanding of the free market, THESE KIDS MEAN BUSINES$ tells the tale of underserved youth creating and living their own versions of the American success story.
In the course of the documentary, viewers meet young entrepreneurs such as Eric and Derrick, 16-year-old twins in urban Milwaukee, as they promote their thriving lawn-care business; Laima, age 16, who makes sure her Web site development company in New York City doesn’t sacrifice good design and aesthetics for the latest special effects; and, west of the Blue Ridge Mountains, David Lawson of Wise County, Virginia, who began converting six acres of his family property to a vineyard after completing a high school entrepreneurship class several years ago.
“The old thinking figured kids were too young to learn about entrepreneurship. The new thinking sees entrepreneurship as a healthy remedy for classroom boredom, restless energies and high dropout rates,” says Clarence Page in THESE KIDS MEAN BUSINES$.
The stories in the documentary come from many parts of the country: Milwaukee, Wisconsin; South Los Angeles, California; Miami, Florida; Nashville, Tennessee; Chicago, Illinois; Wise County, Virginia; and New York City, New York. Among the organizations featured in the program are the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship, REAL Enterprises, Food from the 'Hood, Center for Teaching Entrepreneurship, Entrenuity, and the C. E. O. Academy.In 1987, Steve Mariotti founded the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) with the mission of teaching low-income youth how to start and manage small businesses. “I think it's very important to start as young as possible,” explains Mariotti. “We start at the age of 11 and we are thinking about even moving down to the age of seven. The sooner a young person starts to train their mind to think entrepreneurially, to look for business opportunities, to think about budgeting and planning, to think about marketing and sales, and so that it's incorporated into one's very intellectual being, I think it's very, very positive.”
Academic experts interviewed in the documentary comment on their extensive research, which indicates that entrepreneurship education has a positive effect on the academic performance of at-risk students — as well as affecting attitude and behavior. Featured scholars are Andrew B. Hahn, Ph.D., Professor, Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University; and Howard S. Rasheed, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Cameron School of Business, University of North Carolina at Wilmington.
“Entrepreneurship projects are, first and foremost, experiential education; they fill a vacuum that many young people feel that they need,” says Professor Hahn. “And they’re voting with their feet. They’re leaving school in droves, if you look at the dropout rate. And the principal reason for the dropout rate, according to research we and others have done, is that kids just don’t like the regimentation for school. And they’re crying out for experiential learning opportunities.”
In addition, life-long educator Rudy Crew, superintendent of Miami-Dade County Public Schools, talks about his plans to include entrepreneurship education as part of his secondary school reform policy. “We’re realizing that Miami Public Schools is the centerpiece of the economy for this entire region,” says Dr. Crew. “And to that extent, entrepreneurship has to be a part of the curriculum. We really do believe that how students make sense out of their world, how they actualize and realize their own dreams and goals by being participants in that world at an early age, all have a lot to do with their ability to be very successful later in life.”
Clarence Page concludes THESE KIDS MEAN BUSINES$: “Even if these ambitious young entrepreneurs don’t launch their own company right away, they walk away with skills, values and experiences that can help them in other ways for the rest of their lives.”