The Schulze School of Entrepreneurship at the University of St. Thomas will host more than 100 girls from middle and high schools throughout the area for the third annual Girls Going Places Entrepreneurship Conference on Wednesday, April 13. Minneapolis women business owners and executives will mentor girls ages 12 through 18 about entrepreneurship and financial independence.
The conference is presented by The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America New York, N.Y., in partnership with Minneapolis-based Foster Klima & Company, LLC.
“By providing young women with the opportunity to learn from successful local business women in their own hometown, we hope to ignite their excitement about entrepreneurship and the rewards of business ownership,” said Kathy Readinger, national manager of Girls Going Places. “The entire program of the day is designed to provide students with hands-on experience in finance and business that they may need to utilize in the future.”
During the interactive conference, 30 local business women will guide the girls through various activities such as "Hot Company," an entrepreneurial board game that introduces girls to the advantages and challenges of owning one’s own business. They also will team up for an exercise called “Product-in-a-Box,” in which they will have the opportunity to design a product and present a marketing plan. The mentors will share their experiences as successful women in business.
“My favorite exercise of the program is Budget $avvy,” said Shirley Poelstra, a teacher at Thomas Edison High School, who participates in Girls Going Places and is involved in other programs dedicated to helping high school students with career planning and professional development. “It helps the girls identify their potential salary, the lifestyle they want to have, and their monthly expenditures. It teaches them the fundamentals of budget planning and provides a ‘reality check’ to make them better prepared to live and be successful on their own."
In three years, Guardian’s Girls Going Places Entrepreneurship Conference in Minneapolis has worked with 220 girls from 18 schools in the area and has recruited 90 mentors who are committed to increasing girls’ financial and business literacy. “As a company, we focus on providing the environment, system, services and support that help our clients to reach their maximum wealth potential,” said Megan Thul, director of operations, Foster Klima & Company. “Girls Going Places is similar to our mission in a sense that it enables young women to set their own financial goals and provides training and support they need to succeed.”
The impact of the Girls Going Places in Minneapolis has expanded significantly over the past three years, more than doubling the number of schools and girls participating in the program. This year, 14 schools are participating in the conference, including Minnetonka High School, Wayzata High School, Eden Prairie High School, St. Louis Park Senior High School, Open World Learning, Ramsey Junior High, Thomas Edison High School, Anoka Senior High School, Cristo Rey Jesuit High School, Blaine Senior High School, Coon Rapids Senior High School, Champlin Park Senior High School, Andover High School, and STEP High School.
According to Alexis Penovich, business development coordinator with Foster Klima & Company, the interest from women business owners has been increasing as well: “Many of us would like to help young women interested in pursuing similar paths and Girls Going Places provides a great platform to share our experience with the girls,” Penovich said. “Despite the recent Great Recession, Minneapolis has a really healthy, competitive business environment and this is a great opportunity for us to groom the next generation of the local business leaders and fuel the future growth of the local economy.”
“With more than 10 million firms across the nation that are owned by women, Guardian is committed to ensuring that young women are aware of the benefits of business ownership,” Readinger said.
For more information on Girls Going Places, visit the conference website.