Want to Teach Youth About Small Business? Have them Run One
There are limits to the walls of a classroom. There are only so many projects that can be designed to stimulate the skills and experiences necessary for students to be successful later in life. We plan on using our baked goods business, milk+sugar, as a venue for youth in our community to take charge, be creative, and to have ownership in decisions and direction.
We, Natalie Van Dusen and Whitney Metzger, are two San Francisco transplants now living in Bozeman, Montana. Over the years, we have been teachers, camp directors, and otherwise involved in supporting youth development. We’ve also brought each of our individual passions for coffee roasting and baking into the milk+sugar equation.
Natalie has always had a love for coffee, and after visiting coffee farms in Colombia and Costa Rica, she was inspired to begin roasting coffee at home for family and friends. From the time I could fit an apron on, I've been in the kitchen creating treats to make people’s days better and taste buds happier. We created milk+sugar as a way to fuse our passions for roasting coffee, baking, education, and youth development.
With a hands-on approach, milk+sugar teaches youth what it takes to run a small business by doing just that. The program model is grounded in the belief that by giving youth an opportunity to become business partner interns, and be strategically involved in the business itself, they will gain valuable skills and entrepreneurial traits like leadership, drive, integrity, collaboration, problem solving, and self-confidence. Our business partner interns are involved in the preparation of, sales, and marketing for craft-roasted coffee and artisanal baked goods, learning what it takes to make a business go.
Thus far, the youth involved in our pilot program have worked at the farmers’ markets, applied creative energy to make some permanent fixtures for our organization, helped develop a social media campaign, and strategized about and development marketing materials. Later this month, they will share their experiences and help us interview the next generation of bright business partner interns.
Our most recent project is a Kickstarter campaign to purchase a food truck. It will provide milk+sugar with a space to teach youth the craft and trade skills of roasting and baking, which has yet to be possible due to our business’ space limitations. Plus, it allows milk+sugar to be mobile.
Rather than having a job where they simply follow directions, here the youth will be able to make critical business decisions, design innovative cookie recipes, artfully roast craft coffee, determine where and how best to showcase their creations, and develop a unique experience for milk+sugar’s customers. The youth business partner interns are thus critically responsible for the success of milk+sugar. In short, the food truck will be our office, kitchen, marketing vessel, and classroom—and its purchase is a critical next step for our organization.
Want to help us move along (literally) and grow? Read more about our project and support milk+sugar’s food truck campaign.
This project will be featured in GOOD's Saturday series Push For Good—our guide to crowdfunding creative progress.