From Cookies To The Classroom, More San Diego Kids Are Learning About Entrepreneurship

Mar 11, 2018 by

Urge Gastropub Chef Brad Hightow serves a Girl Scout cookie-inspired cheeseca...

Urge Gastropub Chef Brad Hightow serves a Girl Scout cookie-inspired cheesecake to Brownie Troop 1329, Feb. 20, 2018.

Photo by Megan Burks

The rise of Silicon Valley is fueling a rise in entrepreneurship training in U.S. schools. Colleges now act as incubators for student startups. Even youngsters are learning how to pitch business ideas.

But one program has stood the test of time: Girl Scout cookie sales.

The first known cookie fundraiser was in 1917, when an Oklahoma troop baked and sold cookies in a high school cafeteria, according to the Girl Scouts organization. Today, cookie sales are still going strong, but troops have had to innovate.

“When we say good morning they, like, don’t respond back,” said Brownie Troop 1329 member Reagan Karg of her experience selling cookies outside of a grocery store.

Video by Kris Arciaga

This year her troop partnered with Urge Gastropub in San Marcos. With the help of a mom in marketing, they asked Chef Brad Hightow to create a dish that would promote their cookie booth outside of the restaurant’s entrance.

“People here are like, ‘Yay, I’m going to a great restaurant and, oh, cookies!’ And they’re, like, all happy,” said Brownie Ava Zeait. She said she’s sold up to 20 boxes an hour at the restaurant, compared to one an hour at grocery stores.

Her troop members aren’t the only mini entrepreneurs to come out of Girl Scouts. A San Diego scout made the news when she sold hundreds of boxes outside of one of the city’s newly minted recreational marijuana dispensaries. And Georgia 6-year-old Charity Joy Harrison and her dad Seymore Harrison became internet celebrities when their cookie-themed cover of Childish Gambino’s “Redbone” went viral.

“That’s somebody I would hire when they got older,” said Tamara Romeo of the Brownies in San Marcos. “I think they would be a fantastic employee.”

Video by Charity Joy / Youtube

Romeo owns a commercial interior design firm and recently joined other female entrepreneurs to speak to San Diego State students. She said people shouldn’t dismiss cookie sales as frivolous. In addition to funding troop activities and helping charities, she said the sales begin to teach girls qualities some of today’s business majors are still trying to gain in college.

“Whether you’re selling yourself in an interview to get a job or trying to build something, I think you have to be able to have a position of strength in knowing how to present it to someone,” she said.

Though they’ve been around since the 1970s, more and more schools are offering programs that teach this “entrepreneurial mindset.” In 2013, San Diego State began offering a minor in entrepreneurship. It has a center devoted to the topic and an incubator that helps students grow and fund ideas. (If you’ve seen Bold Brew iced coffee in a local grocery store or coffee shop, that came from the SDSU incubator.)

K-12 schools throughout the county are increasingly teaching entrepreneurship, too, usually in partnership with industry. San Diego Unified students last year visited a biotech incubator to learn how to pitch ideas. Del Lago Academy students worked with the San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum to develop and market museum exhibits.

But there isn’t yet much research on whether these programs improve their academic achievement or help students become successful.

“In my world, we’re not really even talking about it, so it’s exciting to start having that conversation,” said researcher Norris Krueger, who is speaking at a conference on entrepreneurship education at SDSU next month.

Kreuger said via Skype the lack of research, as well as the high failure rate of new businesses, doesn’t mean these programs aren’t valuable for youth. Similar to another education trend called social emotional learning, students benefit in ways that are difficult to quantify, he said.

“They know how to do teams, they know how to be resilient to adversity, they embrace uncertainty, they are better at connecting the dots,” Kreuger said.

Reagan from Troop 1329 doesn’t use words like “resilient” or “adversity,” but here’s what she had to say about Girl Scouts.

“If I get hurt or something in Girl Scouts, (my friends) would always cheer me up. And it’s a good feeling,” she said. “If I’m, like, making a new company and if someone doesn’t get a job or something, I can give them a job because those friends helped me when I was young.”

Reagan and her friends will be selling cookies through Sunday. They’re giving a portion of their proceeds to a charity that brings therapy dogs to hospitals.

Source: From Cookies To The Classroom, More San Diego Kids Are Learning About Entrepreneurship | KPBS

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