Those in need of a coffee beverage or a quick lunch were able to find it — for a price — at Palm Beach Atlantic University this week.
A group of 89 high school students in the Free Enterprise Leadership Challenge sold coffee drinks, fast food items, tie-dyed T-shirts, concessions and other goods and services for their group business projects. The FELC program features a company competition in which students form start-ups and, hopefully, turn a profit. The transactions involve real money, which companies can borrow from the FELC bank.
|Luke Turner, a student at Cypress Lake Center for the Arts in Fort Myers, holds up a T-shirt that his group is selling during the Free Enterprise Leadership Challenge at Palm Beach Atlantic University.|
This is the second year in which the Free Enterprise Leadership Challenge has been held at PBA, a university that upholds the principles of American free enterprise both in the classroom and with an annual celebration.
FELC is a program of the Jesse Helms Center, a non-profit organization based in Wingate, N.C. In addition to PBA, the five-day program is being held on four other university campuses this summer in North Carolina and Michigan.
Students work in teams to write business plans, develop marketing campaigns and make sales. The companies have officers, and each person is assigned specific tasks.
This year’s students came from high schools in Florida, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Utah and El Salvador. Bryan Natera, 16, a junior at LBA Academy in Hialeah Gardens, said he heard about the program from his school’s principal.
“I wanted to learn productivity and how to problem-solve,” said Natera, who hopes to own his own business someday.
His group decided to sell T-shirts that they tie-dyed themselves for $5 each. Because they were able to acquire the shirts for free, he said, “our only expense was the dye.”
In addition to the company competition, the week’s agenda included interactive lessons and opportunities for the students to hear from guest speakers, including PBA alumnus David Hernandez, co-founder and CEO of Liberty Power; Dawn Fotopulos, associate professor of business at King’s College; and Tia Diaz-Balart, wife of U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart.
The students also learn about philanthropy. Although they are not required to, many teams opt to donate their profits to kiva.org, a micro-finance website, said Brian Rogers, FELC’s chief operating officer.
This year, many teams are choosing to give to a scholarship fund established in honor of Reagan Hartley, a FELC counselor who died tragically earlier this year at age 22, he said.
For more information about FELC, visit www.felcexperience.org.