For four weeks this summer, 25 high school seniors from 15 different schools from Clover Hill to Glen Allen gathered to participate in the 39th Cochrane Summer Economic Institute, an intensive program that partners learning about the economy and entrepreneurship through a series of workshops by local business leaders and Collegiate faculty with an immersive group internship.
CSEI, a community outreach program open to all rising high school seniors in the greater Richmond metro area, is funded by the Powell Economic Education Foundation and administered by Collegiate School. Corporate sponsors and private donors make contributions to the Powell Economic Education Foundation in support of the annual program.
Students, including 10 from Collegiate, arrived at Sharp Academic Commons on June 27 and began working on projects related to marketing, development, finance, product design, distribution, management, leadership, research and analytical competence.
Before starting the program, Huda Alsamman, a rising senior at Tucker High School, thought she might pursue a business career. But CSEI opened her eyes to other possibilities.
“Now I’m considering working with nonprofits,” she said. “This program has definitely helped me align the path I want to follow.”
Over the course of four weeks, students, who received a $500 stipend, have participated in team-building exercises to strengthen the skills necessary for a career in today’s commercial markets. They also have heard from Richmond business experts, who have shared case studies and real-world lessons from their careers. This year’s speakers included Bobby Ukrop, president and CEO, Ukrop’s Homestyle Foods; Shaun Thaxter, CEO, Indivior; Bill Moore, wealth management advisor, Northwestern Mutual; Lynne Blain, partner, Harman Claytor Corrigan Wellman; Robert Throckmorton, senior director of innovation, Prophet; and Dr. Shaival Kapadia, chief medical officer and co-founder, Iggbo.
This is the second year of participation for Thaxter and Indivior. The experience has been so positive, he envisions future involvement in the program.
“It’s beneficial for everyone,” he said. “It’s an opportunity for my company to give back to the community, and because we are an organization that has developed some capability and expertise, I think we have a social responsibility to do it.”
Students also have heard from a panel of entrepreneurs, each in different stages of building their Richmond-based smallbusinesses: Jill Stefanovich of bbgb books, Rupa Tak of GoFar Bars, Larkin Garbee of 804RVA and Paul Cassimus of King of Pops. This specific event was hosted by GATHER, a co-working space for startups, freelancers and entrepreneurs, and moderated by Whitney Forstner, an entrepreneur and co-founder of Momentum Resources.
Another highlight of the program involved collaboration between teams of three to four students with seven for-profit and nonprofit partner organizations: ChildFund, ChildSavers, Impact Makers, Indivior, the Institute for Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University and the VCU Department of Sculpture + Media, SunTrust and World Pediatric Project.
On site for nine days at each organization’s headquarters, students were tasked with delivering viable strategies for business projects currently in development.
“The program is a great learning opportunity on so many fronts,” said Matty Pahren, a rising senior at Collegiate. “We learned how to work with our group and be on top of what needs to get done.”
The kind of real-world opportunity CSEI offers can often be difficult to find for rising seniors.
“With most internships, you need a degree or you have to be 18 or you have to have experience,” said Alsamman. “This was perfect because it’s a way to build experience — relevant experience — that will help us in the future.”
Trina Clemans, Collegiate School’s Director of Economic and Entrepreneurship Education, helps facilitate the program and says it offers the rare opportunity for rising high school seniors to deliver viable business solutions and collaborative leadership.
“The program and our partner organizations emphasize responsibility, initiative and curiosity,” she said. “We find the students walk away from the experience highly motivated to identify their career goals and craft their education to succeed.”
CSEI students will present their findings and recommended solutions to the seven partner organizations during a formal program on Friday, at Virginia Commonwealth University. At the conclusion of the program, three scholarships funded by The Associate of Corporate Growth Richmond will be awarded to students in the program who exhibited traits of exceptional collaborative leadership and a great interest in a career in business.The 2016 CSEI was supported by contributions from BB&T, Davenport & Company, Suntrust, Indivior, NewMarket, Mr. William R. Moore III, CFP, Mr. and Mrs. Dave and Judy Pahren and Dr. Chester Sharps. Rising seniors enrolled in any Greater Richmond area high school are encouraged to submit an application for the 2017 CSEI program, available online at powelledfoundation.org.