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Local Lemonade Day event helps children understand basics of running a business

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Learning with lemonade

What: Lemonade Day encourages youngsters to develop business skills by building and operating a lemonade stand.
When: May 11
Where: Neighborhoods throughout Fort Wayne and Allen County
Information: Email

Saturday, May 4, 2013 - 12:01 am

On May 11, a slew of authentic lemonade stands will pop up throughout Fort Wayne and Allen County as the second annual Lemonade Day takes place.

In 2012, nearly 1,300 area youth participated in the local inaugural event, and co-directors Kylee Shirey and Phil Maurizi expect increased participation this year.

The event all started with a turtle.

In 2007 in Houston, a young Lisa Holthouse begged her father, Michael, for a pet turtle and was gently reminded that she needed to work for what she wanted. So she set up a lemonade stand.

“To her surprise, the business of selling lemonade and earning money was not as simple as she had hoped,” explains Maurizi. “Her initial attempts failed, but her daddy took the opportunity to teach her valuable life lessons that not only changed her business trajectory, but also eventually changed the lives of thousands of kids across the country.”

Lemonade Day grew out of Michael Holthouse's desire to empower today's youth to “become tomorrow's entrepreneurs through helping them start, own and operate their very own business,” continues Maurizi. The event since has expanded to numerous cities throughout the United States and Canada.

Budding entrepreneurs

Maurizi's involvement began with the SIFE (Students in Free Enterprise) Club at the University of Saint Francis, where he serves as an academic advisor.

“I really wanted a project that my business students could 'own' that would promote the two things we stress most in our business classrooms — entrepreneurship and experiential learning,” he says. “It's one thing to incorporate these concepts into education, but it's an invaluable process to have students live them.”

Maurizi and Shirey collaborated for the 2012 event, with Maurizi and the SIFE Club coordinating the project and Shirey seeking sponsorships.

Shirey, a corporate attorney with Barrett & McNagny, was excited by the concept of teaching children the basic process of owning and operating a business.

“I've always been energized by the passion and drive that fuels entrepreneurs,” she says. “When I heard about (Lemonade Day), I thought it would be a great program for Fort Wayne.”

Getting started

The process began with free registration in mid-April, where backpacks containing an Entrepreneur Workbook and a Caring Adult Guide were given to the first 1,500 students.

“Children need to go through the registration process for two reasons,” explains Maurizi. “First, as a registrant, the City of Fort Wayne gives them a health waiver, which enables them to sell lemonade as a vendor on May 11. Second — and more exciting — registrants are eligible to enter the Best Tasting, Best Stand and Best Business contests.”

Participants learn basic business concepts, marketing and financial literacy, goal setting and personal productivity as they plan for the construction of the stand and a menu that often expands to include other tasty treats. Youngsters are encouraged to save a portion of the profits while also making a charitable donation from the proceeds.

Students soon learn that education can occur outside of the classroom, says Maurizi, and it doesn't have to be boring.

“Education can be at the kitchen table with mom or dad, or it can happen in the neighborhood selling lemonade,” he says. “The appeal of Lemonade Day is all about empowerment. You're not born an entrepreneur. You become one through learning and exposure. Whether it's setting and achieving a goal or simply having to work hard, Lemonade Day is all about creating an experience ... connecting education and (the) real world.”