Charlie: Developing Business Models with Fourth Graders

I signed up to be a writing coach to fourth graders at a school in Washington Heights one morning over winter break. They had just read a book about a boy who got his town to invest in his kite-making business, so the students’ assignment was to come up with a product or service and go through all the steps of making a business model that would convince hypothetical investors they had a legitimate idea. The worksheets they had asked them to imagine everything from the name of their company, to their advertising, to actually estimating start-up costs and their profit per unit. It was exhausting, not because they were fourth graders, but because starting a business is a lot of work! I was impressed by the children’s perseverance. I was also struck by how open the students were to sharing their ideas with us volunteers (who were all women! woooo! women are the future!), even though they had never met any of us. All I had to do was walk up to one of them and ask them about their product and they were ready to talk about it and take my suggestions. I also enjoyed watching the event’s organizer, Milly, in action. She had not met the students before, but learned most of their names by the end of the two hours. Children say surprising things sometimes, and she did such a good job of validating their answers even if they did not move the class along. Working with kids is a skill, and it was a joy to watch someone so good at it!

The organization I worked with is called Behind the Book. (


YPI Reflection- Planned Parenthood

I am so glad we did YPI this year. I feel that many people know of Planned Parenthood, but not many are very educated on it. Even though we did not win, I am so glad to have researched it so much. We got a chance to educate our whole grade on Planned Parenthood, from clarifying they do more than just abortions (a common misconception) to letting them know of PP’s texting program which many of our classmates could use. Also, if people ask me about PPĀ in the future, I will be able to answer them. That is something I can carry with me for the rest of my life. I also learned how to determine if a charity is trustworthy- by going not just to their website, but to their 990. Though Leitzel ended up helping us get our first site visit set up, it was still a valuable experience to practice calling, emailing, and coordinating with a big organization. Though one usually has to be older than I am to volunteer with PP, I would like to stay connected and volunteer as much as possible. I was lucky to be in a group with two girls who cared about this issue as much as I did. We bickered a lot throughout the process, but it was because we were all busy and stressed but wanted our presentation to be the best it could be. At the end of the day, we were a strong team, united in our goal and passion.

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