Together with DCF, OPP developed the Youth Business model in 1999, and it’s since been nationally replicated and recognized for excellence. Research indicates that after school activities like a Youth Business increase school attendance, parental involvement, academic performance, social skills, and self-confidence, as well as reduction in drug/alcohol use and future job absenteeism.
Students, ages 14-17, participate in classroom-based programs that allow their creativity alongside the development of new skills, including job-readiness skills. Youth design and create projects, working together with their fellow Youth Business classmates, and identify ways to market and sell their items. They also create resumes, participate in mock interviews, and learn key job skills like decision-making, teamwork, and more.
OPP operates its youth businesses in both Hartford and Eastern Connecticut youth centers. Below are the three Youth Businesses offered.
Music United in Sound and Entertainment (MUSE) – helps urban youth learn the ins and outs of music and video production, utilizing state-of-the-art technology, including computer software, musical instruments, recording studio, HD camera, and video equipment. MUSE is taught by a professional music educator and incorporates key youth development and workforce readiness principles.
Junior Art Makers – a fine arts and fashion business in which youth explore and share their artistic talents. Participants also gain entrepreneurial training in order to market their products and services to the community. The focus of the activity is on the creative process, not profit, and preparing youth for a successful future career and advanced education. Artistic products produced include greeting and holiday cards, air-brushed t-shirts, murals, picture frames, African Masks and more.
River Wrights Boats Builders – The River Wrights Boat Builders is one of the staple programs of our Youth Business where youth are given an opportunity to work with their hands. RWBB take what some can view as a simple project, like constructing a boat or refinishing a picnic table, and highlight the skills and lessons each project can bring you. To learn more about RWBB, visit the RWBB page.
Each Youth Business incorporates life skills, (e.g. attendance, communication, and peer-to-peer learning); pre-career training (e.g. marketing, entrepreneurship and creation of a tangible product); and academic enrichment (e.g. math, critical thinking and problem-solving); providing youth with a hands-on experience of the correlation between the classroom and the world of work.
YBs are offered in 10-week cycles (meeting twice per week), and youth earn stipends for attendance and participation.