Students develop business skills for the common good

A schools program that combines entrepreneurship and philanthropy is a roaring success in Melbourne.

By Chris Shearer

September 28 2015

A program for students that combines entrepreneurship and philanthropy is a roaring success across Christian schools in Melbourne’s East.

Projec10 (correct spelling), the brainchild of Sally Tracy and Alisa Pont, is now in its third year, and teaches year 8 students how to plan and carry out their own fundraising efforts for a great cause.

“The idea is the kids start with $10,” says Alisa, “then they do something to make it bigger. They might buy a bucket and sponge and wash cars, they might buy ingredients and make a cake stall.”

“The profits that they make are donated to Opportunity International, which is a global micro-finance organisation. We particularly support a youth apprentice scheme in Ghana, which helps young people in Ghana get trained with a skill and get given the seed money to start their own businesses.”

Recently, students from Camberwell Grammar, Camberwell Girls’ Grammar, Fintona Girls’ School and Presbyterian Ladies College combined forces to raise a whopping $15,840, beating last year’s total of $9998 and bringing the total amount raised since inception to almost $40,000. Some 260 students across the four schools took part, up from 140 last year. Considering involvement is entirely voluntary Sally and Alisa are extremely happy with the program’s success.

“This is a great way of getting those students together to meet and get to know each other and make friends, but at the same time… raise money for a really good cause,” says Sally.

Early on in the project the students are shown how their lives differ from those of the people the program helps through two simple board games. The students play on one board as people born in Australia, and then play again as people born in Ghana. While the Australian board holds squares such as “Start High School. Collect $200”, the Ghanian board highlights the disparities between the two societies with squares like “12th birthday, drop out school. Miss a turn”.

“It’s really important that they see that end destination and that they understand that what they’re doing, while it’s fun and they’re having a great time meeting new people, it also equally is having a really great impact,” says Sally.

After this, the students are taught the essential planning and organising skills needed to run a fundraiser, and given any assistance they may need.

“It’s really good business training for them,” says Alisa. “They’re using a lot of skills and learning a lot along the way.”

The most recent event saw a number of interesting and lucrative enterprises begun out of the initial $10, including sausage sizzles, hot chip stands and the old fundraising classic, sweets. Harry, Jack and Will’s group alone raised $730.

“We’ve done fundraisers before,” says Will, “but we organised this and learnt how to do it.”

“It’s pretty nice to have a feeling that you know you’ve helped somebody out,” says Harry.

And for their part, the schools involved have been delighted with the outcomes for their students. Rob French, the Middle School Coordinator of Camberwell Grammar, says that not only do students get a chance to hone their entrepreneurial skills and develop a sense of social justice, but that it also gives the kids a chance to enjoy social interactions with other schools’ students.

“The dual purpose of it has become really healthy,” says Rob. “Just to have the social and entrepreneurial skills students are developing here but at the same time we’re encouraging them to think outward and to think where their money is going.”

“The coordination and teamwork is a really good experience for them. And then I think just underpinning the whole thing is that this is just a wonderful cause.”

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