A few weeks ago, I received an email asking me to speak to some middle school students. I’m not really sure how this note made it through my spam filter, but somehow it caught my attention. I glanced at it quickly and decided to respond with some questions. It wasn’t until I had exchanged a couple of emails that I realized it was one of the 7th grade students, and not the teacher, requesting my presence. The request was to speak to the class about creating a business plan for a non-profit organization. While the student put together well-written emails, she did not provide me much detail, and I didn’t know what I was getting myself into.

Upon arriving, I opened up with a series of questions for the class. It turns out this was a semester-long project for the students, in groups of two or three, to create a non-profit organization. They had a series of guest speakers come in to talk about a variety of needs in creating a non-profit such as fundraising, marketing, advertising, legal and financial. Needless to say, I was pretty impressed at the scope of this project.  I was equally impressed with how seriously the students were undertaking the assignment.

After having time to reflect, I thought about how ingenious it was to have the students reach out to the community and bring in a variety of speakers. The teacher’s job? To coach the students in how to draft professional emails, to find and contact community members, prepare questions for their guest speaker, take proper notes during the talk.

As I was leaving the classroom, I asked how long the school had been offering this type of business class. I was quite surprised when the teacher  told me, “This is English /Language Arts class, not business.”

Here are two handouts I prepared for the class.

Download PDF file of special newsletter for young entrepreneurs

Download PDF of keys to writing a business plan (for middle school students)