Turning Helping into a Class Lesson

Prep Schools Learn Lessons in Entrepreneurship and Philanthropy

Stephanie Schwartz is using some elbow grease in her studies these days. She’s cleaning dorm rooms and cars as part of an economics class project at the elite Ethel Walkers School in Simsbury. The students’ projects benefit Connecticut Children's Medical Center.
"We went on a tour of the hospital and heard about the trials they're doing for the kids and learned where our hard work would be going," the junior day student from Simsbury said.

The economics students have broken up into six project teams. Each has a small business that's generated funds for CCMC. Their goal is to reach $10,000.

Ellie Vangemeren of Canton is selling water bottles.

"Right now, we're just trying to find customers. That's the hardest part," said senior who's bound for Bates College in the fall.

The budding entrepreneurs are being mentored by the owners of a Connecticut-based sales company called "vie," and their teacher, Michele Harris, guides them through the process.

"Thinking of their life here at the school and how much privilege they have to be healthy, and to see children who need help and to do it financially is a goal,” Harris said.

Community service is a major initiative at Ethel Walker and the girls are learning hands-on lessons in the basics of microeconomics, including cost/benefit analysis and complementary goods.

The projects will culminate in a 5K road race near campus on Sunday, May 9.

"We're constantly doing fundraisers here so you try to think of the one additional thing that people will contribute to, intrigue them and have them throw money at," Schwartz said.

Only time will tell if the girls will reach their fundraising goal, but Harris said the project's already proven to be a worthy and viable educational experience.

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