OUR PROGRAM: The Sweet Potato Project provides a unique, disciplined and cultural approach that uses food (growing, processing, selling) to motivate and educate “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 crime, psychic trauma, illegal drug activity, disproportionate 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 (Note: Activities may change due to presenter availability and/or off-site scheduling):
WEEK ONE: GETTING TO KNOW YOU
Orientation; One-on-one interviews; Planting produce; Speaking publicly & confidently exercises; Focus on assessing student’s individual strengths; Site visit(s)
WEEK TWO: KNOWING MEDIA & IT’S INFLUENCE
Daily news round-up; Social Media Review; Power of Hip-Hop Music; Presentations on entrepreneurism, culture and neighborhood opportunities. Business visit(s)
WEEK THREE: KNOWING YOUR COMMUNITY
How black people live, shop and survive. Online Opportunities; The Value of North St. Louis; Owning land/Growing food; Interaction with local entrepreneurs; What are LRA Properties? Site visit(s)
WEEK FOUR: KNOWING POLITICS
Understanding how politics effect neighborhood progress Review of local branches of government (comptroller, aldermen, etc.), Review local examples of community revitalization (example, Friendly Temple, the Grove Area, Central Corridor, etc.) and political power
WEEK FIVE: KNOWING FOOD
Understanding produce & products (value-added products); Understand nutritional value, food processing procedures; Product Development; Understanding food sales. Site visit(s).
WEEK SIX: KNOWING THE MARKET
Define “Branding” and “Marketing”; Product development & marketing exercises; Identify consumer and community branding; Demographic marketing. Site visit(s).
WEEK SEVEN: KNOWING YOUR MONEY
Understanding banking necessities (checking and savings); Understanding predatory lending and establishing and maintaining “good credit” and personal finances. Site visit(s)
WEEK EIGHT: FOOD AS AN ECONOMIC ENGINE
Understanding produce & products (what we eat & why); Understanding food processing/manufacturing; How food can serve & save communities. Site visit(s).
WEEK NINE: REVIEW, PRACTICE & CELEBRATION
Turn in business plans; Discuss new food products; Program evaluations; End-of-Summer-Celebration (public event).