To empower children as innovators, change-makers and entrepreneurs.
We want to create a future in which children and young people are passionate about making a positive difference through business, and ultimately we are working to create a social enterprise culture in Australia.
The often repeated mantra, it takes a village to raise a child, provides a philosophical base in many education and community contexts and also holds relevance for this program. The invitation for a broader commitment to our children and young people is clearly welcome and long overdue.
But the mantra is incomplete and lopsided. It leaves us with a set of assumptions about children and young people in which they are passive consumers. The assumption is that somehow, at age 18 or 21, young people will emerge from their years of being “raised”, and enter the community as full and useful contributors.
The missing aspect of the philosophy is that it also takes a child to raise a village.
Provided the opportunities and support, children have the capacity to describe, and be involved in, making change. Our villages prosper when we empower all members of our society, especially those who are most vulnerable and also the most active participants in our future.
Background and Need
Traditional education in Australia is struggling to maintain student engagement and prepare young people to be active and resilient citizens. Approximately, 1 in 15 year 5 students do not meet the basic benchmark for literacy and numeracy. For Indigenous students this is significantly higher at 1 in 4.
A lack of school-based programs that value children as innovators, changemakers and entrepreneurs contributes to low levels of financial and business literacy and a limited understanding of diverse vocational pathways.
In 2011, Hope Empowered self-funded and delivered the initial pilot of the Academy for Young Entrepreneurs (AYE) at Grovely State School. Located 14km from the Brisbane CBD, the school services a diverse student population of which 10% are Indigenous and a further 10% have identified special needs.
In consultation with the Principal and regional Head of Curriculum, key needs were identified in the areas of:
- Literacy and Numeracy
- Alternative and personalised learning pathways
- Citizenship, Philanthropy and Social Justice
- Community and Business Partnerships
The 10 week pilot, involving 27 students, conceived and established 16 diverse micro-businesses.
Products and services developed and delivered by the micro-businesses included: jelly cups, cookies, designer gift-cards, art & illustration, dog walking, dog fashion, fimo sculptures, and fashion.
Nett profits directly supported children in the Central Highlands of Vietnam to attend school.
Following a program review further pilots were delivered in 2012 with a revised curriculum and a number of other program enhancements.
In 2013, the St. George Foundation provided seed funding to package the program, finalise the delivery model, formalise key partnerships and launch AYE for national roll-out. The identified model involved the licensing of the program to community organisations and/or schools to deliver the program locally.
St.George Foundation, BankSA & Staff Charitable Fund and Bank of Melbourne Neighbourhood Fund also agreed to provide partnership funding for 10 community organisations and/or schools to deliver AYE in their local community. The partnership funding covers the annual license fee of $2,500 and links the organisation and/or school directly with their local St.George, BankSA or Bank of Melbourne branch for mentoring and program support.