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This past summer, St. Croix Preparatory Academy students Ben Silvernale and Arian Tomar received sponsorships to participate in a week-long summer business, career, and financial literacy camp, Minnesota Business Venture (MBV). Andersen Foundation provided the sponsorship for the students to attend the program.

The program is developed and organized by BestPrep, a Minnesota nonprofit dedicated to preparing students to be college-prepared, work-ready, and career-bound. More than 350 high school students from 100 schools attended and were selected to receive scholarships to participate at one of two MBV sessions at University of St. Thomas or St. John’s University during the month of July.

At MBV, small groups of students called “companies” spent the week developing an imaginary product or service. The students created a business plan and presented to a panel of professionals with the hopes of gaining a loan approval. While the proposals were theoretical, the ideas presented were meant to be a realistic representation of how companies run their businesses. A few product ideas this year included an automatic reflective shield for cars to block out sun and heat, and an intelligent chip that transforms insulin pumps into a smarter artificial pancreas, and a solar-powered and chargeable phone case. Students in each company were mentored and guided throughout the week by professionals from local companies.

One student shared, “Minnesota Business Venture taught me that values drive success. It isn’t about your background or experience, it’s about having an idea and a dream, and having the confidence to pursue it and make it a reality.”

The students engaged in other activities throughout the week, with projects being organized by day in a thematic approach, including Dare to Dream Day, Entrepreneur Day, Career Day, Financial Freedom Day, Youth Empowerment Day, and Future Focus Day. The students listened to inspiring keynote addresses, learned about money management and career opportunities, and participated in mock interviews. Throughout the program, more than 180 volunteers came to MBV to share their experiences and business insights with the future workforce by volunteering as breakout session presenters, mock interviewers, financial advisors and more. The speakers covered a wide range of topics such as managing personal finance, experiences in entrepreneurship, and building a personal brand.

“MBV is a great opportunity for students to put themselves in the shoes of both a college student and a business professional. Participating in a mock interview, working in diverse teams, communicating with adults, and speaking in public are all ways students at camp set themselves up for success in school and in their futures,” said MBV Program Manager, Janae Olinger.

BestPrep’s Minnesota Business Venture has been around since 1981 and has more than 11,000 program alumni. MBV is sponsored by many other companies and organizations including The Allstate Foundation, Cargill, General Mills Foundation, and Wells Fargo Foundation Minnesota.

Summer 2020 sessions will occur on July 12-17 at the University of St. Thomas and July 26-31 at St. John’s University. Registration will open in January 2020.

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