The Center for Teaching Entrepreneurship

The Center focuses on teaching young teens and adults the essentials for starting a business and the importance of making a profit.

By Britney Donald

youth-center-for-teaching-entrepreneurshipNow 23 years old, CTE was co-founded in 1991 by President Redonna Rodgers along with the late Franklin Buchta who died three years into the organization.

CTE was founded on the premise of bringing students into the world of business by promoting education through real life experiences and encouraging others to interact with different business people and organizations.

CTE provides business resources to young people within the ages of 9-24 years old.

This August, CTE will present The CEO of Me Inc. Series, a three day workshop for people between the ages of 15 and 24. Rodger’s goal of the CEO of Me Inc. series is to prepare for the real world by providing real world scenarios in regards to business.

“Our basic philosophy is your life is your business and your business can be your life,” Rodgers said.

Held annually, this series will be split into three individual programs: “LEAD YOUR PATH”, “SURVIVING THE STREETS” and “IF YOU CAN’T GET A JOB… MAKE A JOB”.

These three discussion topics will focus on leadership, understanding your legal rights and how to turn hobbies and interests into a profitable business.

The first program titled “LEAD YOUR PATH” aims to teach young people how to become a good leader and form leadership skills necessary for entering the workforce.

The program will also help young people improving their public speaking abilities and increase their business knowledge and vocabulary.

“SURVIVING THE STREETS” discussion will help youth between the ages of 16 and 24 to understand their rights when it comes to the legal system.

They will learn about various legal situations, its prevention and how to handle them.

Davis plans to bring in two members from the American Civil Liberty Union of Wisconsin to speak about police authority.

Another guest speaker Davis will bring to the August event will be the bodyguard of Mayor Tom Barrett.

In regards to teaching young adults their part in the justice system, “It’s a good aspect to learn to eliminate hostility,” Davis said.

“IF YOU CAN’T GET A JOB…MAKE A JOB” will focus on using a young person’s skills, hobbies or talents and utilizing them into a business.

Jasmine Davis, a Youth Development employee is currently working on the CEO of Me series and has heavy involvement with the various types of topics. Accepting the position to empower young teenagers and adults came easily to Davis as she is also an employee of Public Allies through the UWM School of Continuing Education.

Since joining CTE in November, her primary focus is reaching out to young high school students from Milwaukee Public Schools by helping them gain financial skills, increase their business vocabulary and understand the basics of being an entrepreneur.

“Some young people are in the mind set where you can take things instead of earning,” Davis said.

“I’ve always liked working with young people and helping them generate money on their own.”

Davis works with young adults who are between the ages of 15 and 19. She is also heavily involved with the “SURVIVING THE STREETS” program as well as the MY BIZ program available at CTE.

The MY BIZ program involves Davis traveling to four different public schools in the Milwaukee community to teach students how to make a business plan and utilize it in public.

By actively using marketing skills to target customers and meeting new people, students will generate skills applicable to the real world.

Davis brings in about 10 guest speakers with varying business backgrounds to have a one on one interaction with the students.

Some students have the chance of walking away with not only useful business advice but the opportunity to shadow entrepreneurs in their workplace.

In order to bring in students, Davis constantly reaches out to various guest speakers who own their own business, sending emails to fellow youth organizations, utilizing social media or simply word of mouth.

Social media is a permanent staple within the business community and websites such as Facebook and Twitter make it easier for even small business companies to establish an audience.

According to Mediabistro’s Social Media Business Statistics, Facts, figures & Trends 2014, 74 percent of customers rely on social media to influence their purchasing decisions.

97 percent of all consumers search for local businesses online.

The number one trend for businesses is to incorporate social media into their marketing plan and without it, sales are expected to be hindered.

Davis pushes students to use social media early and effectively by teaching students what is appropriate to post, even on personal social media outlets.

“Be careful of what you put on social media,” Davis said.

“It could hinder you.” 92 percent of companies are using social platforms to hire new employees and while one third of employers have ejected potential candidates because of something they found on their social profiles according to Mediabistro.

As with any nonprofit organization, funding is a challenge for Rodgers but she receives motivation from seeing her students succeed.

“I like developing programs, teaching, motivating, supporting, encouraging students and people in general,” Rodgers said. “As an organization, we’ve done good work with young people despite having a budget under $5000. We have maximum impact on minimal funds.”

Although funds are a big aspect of keeping the organization active, Rodgers makes sure to reach out to other Milwaukee organizations such as the Fellowship Open, who donates their proceeds to at least four agencies every year.

“They gave our students a chance to visit the Black Enterprise Conference,” Rodgers said.

“It’s about relationships, establishing them, building them and sustaining them which takes focus on the follow up and sometimes you need help with that. You need champions.”

Through the promotion of business education, Rodgers has noticed a significant increase in businesses in Milwaukee.

“You’ve got the African American Chambers of Commerce, the Business Council, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Hmong Chamber of Commerce, Multicultural Entrepreneurial Institute, you’ve got so much now,” Rodgers said.

“More small businesses are making noise and bringing excitement and bringing change.”