Sweet lessons learned from ‘Lemonade Day’

Find out how youngsters learned business concepts, from start-up to marketing, by setting up competing lemonade stands …

In the Mill Park neighborhood, it’s “Lemonade Day”, as these young entrepreneurs try their hand at running a business.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

A group of 3rd through 5th graders from Mill Park Elementary School looked both excited and intense, on the afternoon of May 6, as they set up lemonade “stands” in front of the Lincoln Woods housing complex operated by Human Solutions.

Their vending is part of a national project called “Lemonade Day”, held on the first week in May, by various organizations across the country.

Human Solutions “Learn Links” Program Manager Tonya Parson, David Douglas High School mentor Noe Alonso, and Mary Gay Broderick of the Portland Children’s Levy, agree that they’re pleased with how this lemonade sale culminated.

“These students have been working on an entrepreneurial curriculum,” explained Human Solutions Learn Links Program Manager Tonya Parson.

“The program, called ‘Lemonade Day’, was brought to us by David Douglas High School junior Noe Alonso, who is involved with an advanced placement program with Portland Community College,” Parson told East Portland News.

“They attended four weeks of after-school classes regarding what is involved in starting a business,” Parson explained. “They studied about marketing, location – today, everyone one of the ‘prime locations’ – as well as competition, and pricing. And, they had a ‘surprise lesson’ today – they learned about ‘outside competition’, when an ice cream vending truck came through the neighborhood!”

These girls work hard to compete with the other four lemonade stands on their block.

After Lemonade Day, the students shared what each of them learned about creating and operating a business, Parson observed.

Noe Alonso looked pleased with the results.

“It is a success because, we ran out of lemonade much faster than we thought we would,” Alonso.

“Really, this is about more than just making and selling lemonade. These kids are learning about business, and learning how to work together. They’re learning fundamental skills like math, reading, and working together, while also learning cross-cultural communicating,” Alonso said. “In addition, they’re also having fun at the same time, which is why I like it.”

Mary Gay Broderick, from the Portland Children’s Levy was also on hand, watching the event unfold.

“Human Solutions’ after-school program is one of the efforts we fund,” said Broderick.

The boys do their best to attract business to their stand by offering “special” pink lemonade.

“These students are from families who are Russian and Somali immigrants,” Broderick pointed out. “The idea is also to help spark the idea of entrepreneurship in this community of mostly-first-generation immigrants. If parents are not able to financially support the [making of purchases at] lemonade stands, they are given coupons to support the kids project.

“Again, a big part of this is to help get the parents involved in encouraging their kids’ efforts in thinking about future possibilities,” Broderick added. “Like one day, owning their own business.”

In all, it appeared to be a successful project, with a sweet, thirst-satisfying outcome.

© 2015 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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