14 Jan First-Ever Winter Break Academy A Big Success!
We recently partnered with Minneapolis Public Schools for Winter Break Academy (WBA), a three-day learning opportunity for local area students. Over the course of three days, we taught our new “Business by Design” class to twelve amazing Franklin Middle School students, who had decided to trade their first vacation days for an intensive deep dive into the fundamentals of business, design and technology.
Over the course of the “Business by Design” curriculum, students learn to start their own business, including writing a business plan, creating a budget, taking risks, marketing, building a website, delivering a pitch, and asking for and receiving peer feedback.
In the span of three days, we took students through the design thinking process. Based on the challenge, ‘How might we create an even better school experience?’, students were encouraged to look at their world and activate empathy in order to design relevant solutions for challenges they saw in their own lives or the lives of others. Then, everyone individually designed a business around their solution, completing both a business plan and a website for their business. Finally, the students pitched their idea to the group in a formal setting, so they could answer the questions of their peers as well as benefit from feedback from Rêve Academy.
“Winter Break Academy affected me because I didn’t think I could ever become a business person. I just know that WBA will change my and somebody else’s life,” said Cedriah, one of the Franklin Middle School students. “I had fun experiencing new things. I learned about businesses and how to start one—no matter how old you are. Something that inspired me was that we got a lot of work done within these three days and there were serious times and fun times,” said her classmate Rajah.
We were incredibly impressed by the results of the students’ work. Despite the broad definition of the design challenge, rather than focusing solely on their individual interests, all of them chose to create a business centered on a social or emotional challenge that their age group was facing. “I laughed so much with these students and also got choked up at times, seeing the depth of their dreams and watching them get excited about their own potential,” said Amanda Janssen, Director of Academic Excellence. “I believe the students felt the impact too. They even requested that we continue WBA through Christmas Eve and Christmas Day!”