Experience - Business Encounters

Kids-Works-Ventures Program

A Collaborative Learning and Business Development Initiative For Kids

( Possible School, Youth Group, Individual Program and/or Home Project)

Kid's Overview

This program has been developed to give you opportunities to do something with the things you create. We think that it would be a good experience for you to try and share things that you create with other people. It is great that you share your works in your class at school or bring them home  for your family to enjoy, but it would be a good experience to share them with other people. This program will help you and others come up with a plan to create a business from things kids create.

This programs goal is to  create opportunities for kids to develop and commercialize kid's works.

Envision kids working together to create a product, a "works",  such as a book, a song, or a stage play  that engages them in collaborative learning and provides business experience from the development and commercialization of the works. 

 We will all be entertained and enlightened by the fresh perspectives and talents of kids. Who knows were the "works" of kids will go!  

"Works" or a project within this program, refers to something that the kids create. This will most likely be a written works such as a book , art, a play script or a movie script.

The venture component of this strategy signifies a commercial enterprise  in which a risk is taken. We are going to undertake  risks to create commercial opportunities for kids and their  works .

This concept is written as if you were discussing  it with your school or youth service organization.  We also encourage kids to lead a project on their own initiative.  

This format will hopefully help you create an initiative that makes sense  within your organization.

Topics Discussed

The Essence of this Initiative

How does this fit into our school curriculum?

Should teachers be expected to do this over and above what they are doing now?

Can this program be done  outside of class?

Life is full - how will kids find time?

What is the business development side of the program?

Is the commercialization component necessary?

How do we commercialize works?

If the commercialization  needs funding, how do we fund it?

Who gets the recognition for the works?

Who becomes the author in a collaborate works?

Who controls the copyright?

How do we manage through the commercial failures?

Realistically, how much money could be raised from a program such as this?

How do we use the money that is derived from commercial successes?

Do we need help in this program?

The Essence of this Initiative

Once we realize that kids have great creative minds and amazing perspectives on life in general, we will begin to appreciate the many opportunities for kids and kids works. The opportunities should be focused on the learning elements of this program with the commercial opportunities as an added benefit and reward for effort.  The learning opportunities will engage kids to collaborate together, to discover and create a "works"  that is of interest to them.  Collaborative learning includes working together in groups, across grades and with varying talents and perspectives. The commercial opportunities are from performances or selling the  completed book, play script or song etc.

For example, consider an opportunity  for a school class, a school, or smaller groups of students who work together to develop a book.   Ideas for the topic of the book, the name, the characters the plot etc. can be exchanged between kids. Kids can participate in many ways; with animated drawings, enactment of what they think a good part of the book should be, lots of ideas and actually typing the thoughts into document form.  Some will learn to facilitate a discussion group while others will develop their creative and thinking skills.  The whole process has so many excellent leaning opportunities.

 

Please ensure that the spirit of this initiative is focused on creating opportunities for kids to have great learning experiences, develop their individual skills, discover new talents and participate in a worthwhile business initiative.  If you succeed on the commercial front, please don't loose sight of the greater educational relevance.  There are no losers in this program if everyone learns something.

How does this fit into our school curriculum?

The answer to how a "works" or project complements specific curriculum depends on the type of "works" that you embark on .  It is safe to say that language and writing skills will be developed in all projects. 

There are opportunities to encourage specific curriculum learning.  This program could be a way of tying together  or enhancing curriculum.  Collaborating with other students, presenting your ideas, thinking, creative development, drawing and many more elements are not only important life skills but should also exist in your current core curriculum programming.

The business related learning components of the program may be new to the school but are  very relevant to a total education.

Should teachers be expected to do this over and above what they are doing now?

Teachers in general are exceptional at taking an interest in things that kids are interested in or in things that can enhance their curriculum.  Teachers can be key motivators for kids by encouraging them to explore opportunities and challenge themselves in different ways.

Please note that this does not have to be an in-class activity as it could disrupt planned curriculum delivery or  teachers could be currently over burdened with existing commitments and responsibilities.

 If appropriate, individual teachers could advise the kids on their progress or use WIP (work in process) material for discussion in  class.

The answer is, no, teachers shouldn't be expected to participate but encouraged to participate on terms that make sense with their schedules, expertise and interest.

Can this program be done  outside of class?

Learning should always take place in and out of class.

This can be developed as an out -of-class initiative.  You can organize this program as an extra-curricular program, an at home project or just as a "give this a try" when you have some time type of project.

It may be as simple as communicating the opportunity to the school with the understanding that kids can take this initiative outside of class time and see where they go with it.  This is when parent associations and student councils  could be very helpful in communicating the program and facilitating its development.

The program could be introduced in communications material that is sent out from the class, school, parent information or community newspapers.

Ask people to volunteer for a steering committee to facilitate and get things started by, proposing the program,  circulating initial communications and facilitating involvement.

The key is to get the idea out there (this page should do it) , encourage kids to participate and if necessary give them an incentive. The idea of the program will hopefully be incentive enough in that they could raise money for the school, participate in creating something like a book and gaining value experience to help them in their future careers.

You could investigate setting up a "Business Club" to start and oversee the initiative.

Parents can play a very instrumental role in encouraging this program at home. Parents can influence programming outside of school in a number of ways - financial support, getting kids to programs and other involvement and support. If parents were to allocate time, priority and money to making a home based project work, then it has a good chance of succeeding with parent management and direction.  

Life is full - how will kids find time?

Ad hock collaborative groups can be formed on the school bus, lunch room, study hall, internet chat group, by telephone or e-mail or obviously whatever means makes sense to the kids.  Groups can be formed in ways that makes sense, such as, kids on the same street, same bus, same recess area etc.

Ideas can be developed and exchanged in a variety of ways with the "works" evolving  into the form of a word document or an e-mail text.

Kids can be formal with meeting time or just work on it in an ad hock way when they have  a little time. 

 Research studies suggest that kids watch too much TV and spend a lot of time on the internet.  We should suggest a small balancing of priorities and a possible reallocation of time from some of their current activities to this program.  You will have obvious challenges on competing with entertainment time.  Be creative in helping kids get started  on projects that  will spark a high level of interest.

Should kids be active in business or fundraising initiatives?

This is an area that could be debated at length along with the argument, if  we really need more money to provide a good education. As this program is very progressive, it is essential to be responsible but to also move beyond sometimes stifling debate to achievement.

It is in the opinion of this program, that kids should take an interest in business and fundraising initiatives to learn and respect what these important realities are about.

A very important element of this program ,is that kids can participate without feeling like they are selling something for the sake of raising money.

The fundraising and commercialization elements are optional.

What is the business development side of the program?

The business development is two fold. Firstly, kids have the chance to experience business as they participate in the planning and commercialization of a "works".  Kids develop in business from an actual business experience. Kids are treated to first hand considerations on developing a product and taking it to market.  They will quickly begin to understand the steps to take to develop new ideas and ways of marketing and selling their products or "works".

Secondly, the school can consider this initiative as a new opportunity for financial funding.  Given the right approach, this could be a very attractive business initiative. The concept is very unique in that there is the possibility that works will generate revenue for many years to come. This program may also nurture business  relationships  from the business aspects of the program that could enhance existing programs and set the stage for other opportunities.

Is the commercialization component necessary.

You can run this program without commercializing any of the "works".  This is a decision that may make sense to your group for good reasons. You may not want to risk money or the sense of failure in trying to commercialize.  This discussion is an excellent learning experience in and of  itself and should be one that kids take an active role in.  No matter what the outcome, again, everyone wins if everyone learns something.

You will find that the commercialization component may be more attractive to the school then the kids. The thought of fundraising will attract the interest of the school and parent associations. If you can leverage the adult interest with project specific opportunities that interest  students, you will have a winning combination. 

 

How do we commercialize "works".

There is no easy answer in regards to determining  if we should commercialize or not. There should be lots of discussion on  the market, our ability to organize the necessary efforts to get the product market ready, figure out how to price it, were to sell it, how to get it to market, what to call it etc.

We will have an obvious distribution partner in the school to sell the "works"  to fellow students and to families for gift ideas etc.

Some of the works may be best sold in an auction for the parent community and/or the larger community. Art would be a great example for this approach.

We would look to our association, parent community, business partners, alumni and community to help facilitate further publishing and distribution opportunities.  The schools parent association  may be able to evolve to accommodate an online fulfillment operation.

We must appreciate that a commercialization model will be similar to venture capital in that all projects may not  get the funding or other forms of support. This is not to say that all  projects were not a success from an educational and collaborative learning perspective.  The commercialization  is only another form of reward and personal satisfaction for the efforts of the kids participating.

We need to be sensitive to the feelings of kids when it comes to the process and criteria for choosing projects to commercialize.  We need to clearly communicate that there are three levels of success in this program.  The  completion of a project is a success within itself and does not depend on the money it generates.  Commercialization is a success in that there is a belief that the works will be of interest to other people. Commercial  success will have the rewards of satisfaction and money. Business can be cruel and we should use this program as an opportunity to learn about business disappointments in a low risk , patient and supportive way.

If the commercialization  needs funding, how do we fund it?

 

The development of most "works"  projects will not require funding.  The development of a book, for example, would encompass the writing of the book to a manuscript stage. This process  would cost minimal amount for paper and computer access.  Most tools and materials are readily available.  If need be, companies or community group members would help supply the required things.

The publishing of the "works" may require project funding.  There are many possibilities for publishers or other interested parties to assume this role. We would appeal to the parent community and parent association to examine the funding of the commercialization of particular "works".  

It is important that funding is not diverted or perceived to be diverted from the priorities of the school.

This initiative should be self-sustaining from the start .  We would send out a communications looking for participation from the kids and a financial support  from the parents.  Like any initiative, if we don't get participation or financial support it just doesn't move forward.

Who gets the recognition for the works?

There are many interesting considerations when discussing recognition. Everyone involved in the project should receive some recognition.  It is understandable that some contribute more then others and that some may be very  key contributors.  There is no right answer as all situations will  be different. 

Many books use a page to acknowledge people who assist in the many aspects of completing a book. The key to remember is that people will appreciate acknowledgement  and it can affect the participation you get in your project. If people know upfront that they will be acknowledged in a book, it can be a great incentive for a level participation.

Who becomes the author in a collaborate works?

There are  interesting opportunities in choosing an authors name.  The choice could honor someone from the school's history, could reflect the school's name or many other choices that make sense.  

Franklin W. Dixon, the author  of the "Hardy Boys", did not actually do the writing. The writing was actually written by many other people.

 

Who controls the copyright?

There are copyright issues to be considered in the commercialization process.  It is important to determine who owns the right to the works.  If the works  is created by a group, then the owner of the copyright should be identified before the project is started.  An agreement can be entered to explain ownership of the copyright, the management of the copyright and the allocation of proceeds from the sale of rights or product. 

How do we manage through the commercial failures?

Surprisingly enough, this is one of the most valuable experiences that can come from this initiative. There are many business and product failures around the world each year. It is only a failure if you don't learn anything from it.  

There are some basics that we need to keep in mind. The funding that is raised to  commercialize a "works" must be provided with the expectations that it may not be recovered or it will not generate enough sales to cover the costs.  This is the most difficult decision making in this program.

Realistically, how much money could be raised from a program such as this?

The surprising thing about this program is that there are no limitations. A commercial success can be huge, even in the magnitude of millions.  Think in terms of a very successful book or song. There is not only great earnings potential, but the royalties and other potential payments can continue for years.

The opportunities are greater as we develop a reputation or a brand name through project successes. This name recognition will only enhance the chances of future successes.

How do we use the money that is derived from commercial successes?

Initially we would look at the allocation of funds through our established associations within the school  infrastructure. Based on the success of the program and tax reasons, we could examine an appropriate vehicle to raise capital and allocate the surplus.  A foundation, income trust, a venture fund etc. could be examined with the appropriate professional advice.

We should seriously consider a generous commitment to charity. It would be a good learning experience for kids to consider charity whenever dealing with business success.

One model to consider is the TeachingKidsBusiness.com Social Venture approach.

Do we need help in this program?

Based on the interest level in this program, TeachingKidsBusiness.com will offer additional assistance, which would include business partners to help in the marketing & promotions, publishing and distribution activities.

There are lots of people in your community that may be interested in answering some of your questions or giving you some ideas on how to proceed.

 


Comments , questions or to share your experiences in this initiative or similar programs please

 

More to come!

Presented by;

Jeff M. Brown

TeachingKidsBusiness.com