PowerPlay Young Entrepreneurs





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BC entrepreneurs Bill Roche and Charles Chang have a vision to make Canada more competitive by nurturing an entrepreneurial spirit in young people. In 2017, they co-founded Young Entrepreneurs of Canada Association, a registered Canadian charity that operates under the name PowerPlay Young Entrepreneurs.

“Our mandate is to help school-aged Canadians develop the entrepreneurial mindset, skills and relationships needed to thrive in our rapidly changing world,” says Chang. “It is not necessarily about creating entrepreneurs, but rather it is about creating an entrepreneurship culture where kids have a more entrepreneurial view of the world.

The Program
The PowerPlay Young Entrepreneurs program is Canada’s largest teacher-facilitated entrepreneurial education program, having already reached over 120,000 elementary and middle school students from British Columbia to New Brunswick.

PowerPlay students are empowered to take charge of their learning, stretch their capabilities and experiment with new ways of thinking. “They have fun exploring and try out new skills as they create and launch their own real business ventures,” explains Roche. The young entrepreneurs develop products, business plans and marketing materials, and then showcase their achievements and earn money at an exciting event called the ‘Young Entrepreneur Show’. They also learn about social responsibility and make a difference in their communities by donating a portion of their profits to charity.

Backed by Solid Research
Simon Fraser University (SFU) completed an independent study of 2,453 PowerPlay students and 44 teachers in British Columbia. The results indicated an 11% increase in growth mindset by youth participants. An increasingly influential concept in education, growth mindset represents a student’s belief in their own intelligence and ability to grow their skills through dedicated effort. PowerPlay students also demonstrated significant increases (26-59%) in competencies such as creativity, communications and critical thinking.

Commitment to Teachers
“At PowerPlay, we are committed to creating teacher-focused solutions,” says Roche. “In fact, our program can be easily adapted to meet the goals of teachers, schools and districts.” Educators receive turnkey resources (teacher manual, workbooks, parent information and a video suite) and have access to training and support.

PowerPlay Young Entrepreneurs seamlessly integrates into curriculum (Mathematics, Language Arts and other core subjects). Students are motivated to acquire the necessary academic skills they need to succeed in goal setting, marketing, calculating profit and cost, and creating a professional business plan. As one teacher shared, “My students were learning even when they thought they were just having fun.”

Inclusive Solution
Both Chang and Roche are very proud that PowerPlay is very inclusive and successfully empowers students with diverse learning differences to create their own pathways to success. Teachers consistently report that they see really high engagement with students including those that are not typically successful in school. For example, Vice Principal Melissa Dedam reported that the program effectively broke down barriers to success for her students on the Elsipogtog First Nation. “It was mind blowing to see these students fully engaged for a full Math class. That just doesn’t happen at our school,” she said.

PowerPlay Young Entrepreneurs also builds teacher capacity. Teachers report that PowerPlay helps them be more effective with engaging students using personalized learning techniques.

Mindset Matters
The impact of PowerPlay Young Entrepreneurs has been captured in a documentary called “Mindset Matters”, which illustrates the importance of an entrepreneurial mindset. Vancouver filmmaker Tanya Maryniak followed a class as they moved through the program.
Along with footage capturing the students in action, the film features commentary from an interdisciplinary group of experts, making it applicable to all age groups.

Meaningful Community Connections
In addition to the school-based program, the PowerPlay charity has also developed a variety of events and workshops to help students extend their learning. Both the in-school and extracurricular options provide an ideal opportunity for students to connect with, learn from and be inspired by community volunteers.

Positioned for Growth
In 2018, the Government of New Brunswick invited PowerPlay to launch in their schools. A highly successful implementation now serves as a model for broader expansion. Subsequently, the charity started working in Ontario, Alberta and Saskatchewan over the past year.

“A key driver of our success is working with community partners and funders that are committed to making a meaningful difference in the lives of youth,” says Chang. “We are excited for others to join the PowerPlay movement.

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