OUR PROGRAM: The Sweet Potato Project provides a unique, disciplined and cultural approach to motivating and educating “at-risk” youth on the benefits of entrepreneurship in low-income, disadvantaged communities. The project is based on the theory that poverty, unemployment, and lack of economic opportunities fuel illegal drug activity, disproportionate minority high school dropout rates and the incarceration of (mostly) minority youth in juvenile and, eventually, adult correctional facilities.
Below is a summary of our nine-week summer program:
WEEK ONE: GETTING TO KNOW YOU
Goals: Set tone; farming and neighborhood dynamics; urban farming and community ownership; youth interaction; Assess student’s knowledge and strengths.
WEEK TWO: SELF DETERMINATION
Goals: Introduce youth to formal communication platforms; Introduce to varying economic factors in upper, middle and low-income areas; Focus on personal and professional communication.
WEEK THREE: CONFLICT EDUCATION
Goals: Identify ways to deescalate conflicts; Use Conflict education to get to unity and team inter-dependence; Encourage youth to see global and local roots of violence; Encourage self-responsibility in deescalating conflicts.
WEEK FOUR: PUBLIC SPEAKING/FINANCIAL LITERACY
Goals: Daily media-review; one-on-one interviews, stress importance of speaking publicly & confidently; Understanding banking necessities (checking and savings); Understanding predatory lending and establishing and maintaining “good credit.
Goals: Understanding produce & products (value-added food); Understand nutritional value, cooking and food processing procedures; Introduction to current and new products and understanding of “product lines.”
Goals: Define concepts of “Branding” and “Marketing”; Introduce and discuss product development & distribution; Identify consumer and community branding and marketing; Introduce demographic marketing (what’s sold, how and why it sells).
Goals: Creating a basic business plan; Understanding business competition, financial management, profit & loss and “location, location, location!”
Goals: Understanding produce & products (sweet potato-based products); Understand nutritional value, cooking and food processing and culinary safety procedures; Introduction to current and new products and understanding of “product lines.”
Goals: Finalize new products; post-program evaluations; review of all lessons; plan & execute “End-of-Summer-Session” public event.