Soap-making and jewelry design aren’t usually taught in K-12 classrooms, but more students are learning how to make and market real products with the help of Real World Scholars, which aims to teach kids entrepreneurship so they don’t have to wait until they grow up to run a business.
The nonprofit’s director of strategy, Michael Crawford, believes starting a business helps kids learn the increasingly coveted “soft skills” like risk-taking, collaboration, and management. “Why not begin to strengthen those muscles that typically go unchecked at the school space?” he says.
The privately funded foundation fostered its first student-run business—an “Education Corporation”—at High Tech High in 2015. Chemistry teacher Matt Martin and his class decided to make and sell soap, to the tune of about $10,000 so far.
Real World Scholars’ initiative has since expanded to 250 classrooms in 33 states. “Entrepreneurship is an opportunity for young people to realize that they are capable of contributing to their community today, not someday,” Crawford says.