“Planting Seeds for the Future” is an entrepreneurial/garden project based at Border Star Elementary School in Kansas City, Missouri. Working with students in grades 4-6 “Planting Seeds” weaves together themes of financial literacy, small business development, creative writing, and critical thinking all centered on the student run and maintained urban garden. Upper Elementary students will have the opportunity to create their own businesses, with unique marketing, logos and sales ideas generated by the students’ research and production in raised garden beds. Students will maintain journals, create visual art and creative writing projects, conduct research, explore issues of health and wellness, organic gardening, sustainability as well as social and environmental issues centered on food. Planting Seeds seeks to implement steps designed to engage students in positive creative actions, analytical and critical thinking aimed at ending poverty and creating socially & environmentally conscious citizens. Planting Seeds for the Future is made possible by a generous grant from the United Services Community Action Agency and is sponsored through the University of Missouri-Kansas City Division of Diversity, Access & Equity.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Vanessa Finley - Business Plan Development

One of the greatest rewards of the “Planting Seeds for the Future” project has been the overwhelming enthusiasm with-which the students have embraced their business ideas. This great reward has also led to one of the programs greatest challenges – tempering that enthusiasm with the slow, steady learning of key foundational business concepts. Each day, students passionately tell us about their plans, all of which are fun and engaging, many are potentially profitable and several are far beyond the time, finances and physical capabilities of the classroom. The true challenge is maintaining the deep interest and passion of these students while asking them to back up and build a solid base of business plans, cost analysis, marketing plans and more.

This past Tuesday the Border Star students began the challenging task of writing their business plans with the expert instruction and advice of Vanessa Finley. For over 12 years Vanessa Finley served as the Executive Director of the First Step Fund helping low and moderate income individuals with their small business development. Vanessa graciously took time from her busy schedule as CEO of Gilda's Club, Kansas City, to help the “Planting Seeds” students think critically about their ideas and to build a solid business plan. Vanessa let each class select a business idea for that day’s focus and then skillfully led the students through the business plan development using the six basic questions of What?, Who?, Why?, When?, Where?, and How? Each question brought the students to a fuller understanding of the complexity of a well-constructed business plan and the careful planning that must be part of their individual businesses. During Thursday’s class students applied these new skills and information to business plans for their own ideas. Students will present their business plans in class next week as we begin the process of selecting those ideas most viable for the constraints of our classroom. Thank you to Vanessa Finley for all your time, materials and support.

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