Submitted by Scott T. Lee, Foundation for Free Enterprise Education
We hear it all the time – “I can’t find great employees!” With the improving economy, many of our members are having trouble finding people with the knowledge and skills they need to help their business grow and thrive. We have a solution – Pennsylvania Free Enterprise Week (PFEW). This award-winning summer economics education program has benefitted our local students for over 40 years. PFEW immerses rising high school juniors and seniors in the world of business, allowing them to experience firsthand what you face each day. Offered by the Foundation for Free Enterprise Education, PFEW was founded to teach students about the American private enterprise system and help students develop skills that make them the great employees and employers of the future. PFEW annually holds five week-long sessions in July and August on the campuses of Lycoming College and the Pennsylvania College of Technology in Williamsport, PA, serving nearly 2,100 students and 200 volunteers each year.
PFEW participants form teams of approximately 18 students and one volunteer adult business mentor. This group becomes the simulated management team of an underperforming manufacturing company in direct competition with other student companies. Each company must determine, through 12 business quarters, their selling price, marketing costs, production levels and budgets, banking needs, R&D costs and more. In addition, teams must develop a marketing strategy, create a print and media campaign, and design a website. Sound familiar?
The week is highlighted by Speakers delivering inspiring motivational messages geared toward the students’ personal and professional development, including the Relationship between Business and Government, Leadership, Teamwork, Critical Thinking, Effective Communication, and more. Team-building activities, an ethics case study, and other business-related activities are included throughout the week. Informal interaction and discussion between businesspeople and students occur daily.
PFEW is designed to give every participant an idea of real-world relevant issues facing today’s businesses. But does it work? Consider the following quote from 2019 PFEW graduate Simon Gajewski from Great Valley High School: “I cannot express into words how much I have learned in the last week. However, this camp is not only about teaching business. It is about learning the soft skills in business such as presentation skills, good communication, working as a team, time management, and how to work hard and grow into the business world. Your sponsorship allowed me to develop all of these skills ahead of others my age and it really helped me gain confidence and grow as a person.”
Simon gets to the heart of PFEW – igniting a passion for business in the next generation and arming them with skills that will drive Pennsylvania forward for years to come. The Chamber has proudly supported PFEW for many years, and we encourage all our local companies and civic organizations to provide sponsorship for our students and, if possible, volunteers for the sessions. Every student attends PFEW on a fully tax-deductible $625 sponsorship (the actual value of which exceeds $1,500) which is provided by a local firm, foundation, civic organization, or individual. PFEW is an approved Educational Improvement Organization through the PA Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program. Sponsorship donors are prominently recognized in several publications circulated throughout the state, and each student wears the name of their sponsor on their photo ID badge throughout the week. Students write their sponsors after graduation to report on what they have learned.
The Foundation for Free Enterprise Education, in cooperation with the SIFMA Foundation, offers another award-winning economics education program called the Stock Market GameTM (SMG). SMG is an exciting, interactive game that teaches students in grades 4-12 about investing, global capital markets, and personal finance, leading to long-term financial freedom. Each school year, this program serves over 8,000 students statewide.
If you would like to learn more about either award-winning program and how you can get involved, please visit the Foundation’s website, www.pfew.org, or contact Scott Lee, vice president of marketing & development for the Foundation for Free Enterprise Education at (814) 833-9576 ext. 8, or firstname.lastname@example.org.