FBLA educates young entrepreneurs

Diana Kohr

Lynbrook’s Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) club aims to raise community awareness about entrepreneurship through the American Enterprise Project (AEP), which involves educational community events at Dilworth Elementary School, Joaquin Miller Middle School, Sunflower Learning Center and Cupertino Library throughout January and February. 

FBLA chapter projects are long-term projects that give back to the community, and although they are not considered events, local chapters compete against each other in the State Leadership Conference (SLC) for the chance to go to nationals. AEP is one of Lynbrook FBLA’s newer chapter projects. Its purpose is to educate the community about the American enterprise system through various activities and events. This year’s officer team includes Project Lead Nisha Ramanathan, Vice Chair Riddhi Somani, Secretary Aneesh Ramanathan and Public Relations Officer Shreya Udupa. 

Out of the five main pillars of the American enterprise system, including private property, private enterprise, competition, consumer sovereignty and profit motive, Lynbrook AEP officers chose to focus on entrepreneurship, which incorporates aspects of competition and profit motive. 

“We are planning to promote the American enterprise system through sessions that discuss entrepreneurship and its fundamentals for elementary, middle and high school students, in order to impact the community at all levels,” Somani said. “We hope to bring out the passion for entrepreneurship and creativity of these students.”

This year, Lynbrook AEP events were held at a variety of locations. Each of these locations was selected with a specific target audience in mind, and the officers adjusted their curriculum and activities accordingly. 

Infographic taken from Project Impact’s Instagram Page
Profit motive is an incentive that drives business integration and individuals.

For example, at the Jan. 16 seminar at Miller Middle School, students began by taking a brief pre-test to gauge how much they already knew about entrepreneurship. Nisha Ramanathan, Somani and Udupa explained key terms and concepts, and most of the remaining time was devoted to an engaging, hands-on activity, requiring students to build a spaghetti structure that could hold a marshmallow at its top. Following the activity, Nisha Ramanathan, Somani and Udupa led a discussion that connected the outcome of the activity to key entrepreneurial concepts, including brainstorming and prototyping. Most groups agreed that brainstorming designs before starting the building process would have been much more effective than complete improvisation. However, due to the time limitation, prototyping was not a feasible option. 

“To reach out to a diverse group, we decided to also host an American Enterprise event outside Cupertino Library,” Udupa said. “We set up a table with trivia questions and prize giveaways and designed posters to illustrate the game. Those who attempted to answer a question received a prize as a reward. We also distributed flyers that explained the five pillars of the American Enterprise System. Attendees gained valuable knowledge on entrepreneurship concepts.”

Leading up to these events, officers put in hours of work to prepare a detailed curriculum and organize applicable activities. 

“We started planning over the summer before the 2019-2020 school year, and that consisted mainly of brainstorming events and getting in contact with event speakers,” Nisha Ramanathan said. “Then in October, I chose the officer team and we immediately began our project.” 

The team began by celebrating AEP Day with posts on Instagram and a YouTube video. The Instagram posts featured infographics that explained the five pillars, and the video was filmed and posted on the Lynbrook AEP YouTube channel. 

When the officer team began planning the community events, certain event locations, specifically Miller and Dilworth, were chosen because the project leaders already had an existing relationship with these locations, as they had held AEP events there previously. Although the planning process for these events was relatively straightforward, it required hours of work to execute. 

Apart from helping to plan various events, Udupa was in charge of publicizing these events to the community. For example, Dilworth students received AEP handouts in their weekly folders, and the daily Miller announcements included event details and an interest form. 

Although the date for the Dilworth event was delayed from Feb. 3 to Feb. 28 due to an issue with student forms, these educational events have been quite successful. Following the community events, the AEP report is due on March 3, and Lynbrook AEP will compete at SLC in April. 

Last year was Lynbrook FBLA’s first year participating in AEP, so some events that Lynbrook AEP organized were partnerships between Lynbrook and other schools. However, this year’s events are entirely organized by Lynbrook AEP. 

“We are not collaborating with other schools this year because we want our events to be something we planned from start to finish,” Somani said. “Also, we want to have a large social media reach through our Instagram account, YouTube channel and website. Last year, we did not focus on social media, but this year, we are going to use these platforms to raise awareness in the community.”

AEP not only involves planning and organizing community events, but also competing in SLC, so the early start on planning meant an early start on the 15-page report due in March.

“Since last year was our first year doing AEP, we did not really expect to go to states, but we somehow made it, and that was super thrilling for all of us,” Nisha Ramanathan said. “We also got our rubric back later, after we were one place away from competing at nationals, and we lost points that should not have been lost, such as spelling and formatting, while we lost some points on content, which was expected.”

With an early start on events and the final report, the AEP officers are hoping to participate in nationals this year. Regardless of whether they qualify, though, they will have been able to reach many in the community through their work.