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Students are encouraged to fail in this brilliant business program for kids.

In these schools, if you can dream it, you really can be it.

Students are encouraged to fail in this brilliant business program for kids.
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"Dream big" and "you can be anything you want to be" — phrases like these often show up on school posters, but they're much easier said than done.

Kids need actual real-world experience to get out there and have a fighting chance in an already saturated and competitive job market.

We live in an age when entrepreneurs rule; this is especially true today, when there are fewer and fewer direct paths to careers, and many require in-field experience and degrees.


For students facing real obstacles like hunger, homelessness, and living as newly arrived immigrants, those things are often out of reach.

For example, one student named Natalie had previously been kicked out of school, but thanks to BUILD, a program that brings entrepreneurs into classrooms to help students develop real-world business plans to pursue after graduation, she became her high school's valedictorian and got her college degree.

A teacher at Broome Street Academy in New York City shaking hands with students after a business presentation. All photos via BUILD.org.

Now she works at BUILD helping other kids burst through their own glass ceilings.

It just goes to show almost any limitation can be overcome given the right tools.

BUILD's four-year program teaches the basics of small-business building through project-based learning, and students get hands-on experience working with companies that appeal to their interests while growing their "mock business."

Since the programs are so hands-on, BUILD teachers are finding they've significantly increased their students' engagement and confidence levels.

Students winning awards for their BUILD presentations.

"I have had teams learn how to make books, headbands, use a 3D printer and the software required to design, work metal, and many other small skills," writes Nick Ford, a teacher at Columbia Heights Education Campus in Washington, D.C. "I left a lot of that learning up to them. That is why BUILD is amazing. The students pick their path, and I help them find what they need in order to walk it."

The best part: The possibilities for what students can create are endless. The only rule is that they must work together to make their dreams realities.

Broome Street Academy students showing off their phone case creation.

A lot of the program's success stems from how it encourages failure, because messing up is a huge part of creating a business.

"The best lessons that have come from my BUILD classroom has been when students have failed or even sensed rejection," writes Reggie Williams, a teacher at the SEED School in D.C. "These moments, however, provide necessary reflection that facilitate growth. Having a culture where failing is not chastised is huge, because it allows students to take risks. However, reflecting is the key."

Williams says it's also helping them be better public speakers — a vital tool in today's business world.

But BUILD doesn't just inspire creative, collaborative thinking. It also helps students with the more practical side of business building: the money.

"A lot is at stake in the process and without funds, they cannot go to the next level," writes Broome Street Academy Dean of School Culture Namrata Patel. "Though all my groups received some funding if not all of the funding they requested, it is a learning experience for them in how to ask for money and to show how it is being used in running their business."

Broome Street students giving a presentation on their business model.

Students are charged with creating elaborate investor pitches for their businesses in order to receive funding and get the green light.

This too is confidence-building — it allows students to lay out the mechanics that ultimately bring a business idea to fruition.

Practicing entrepreneurship in the classroom not only gives students the chance to flex their creative muscles, it shows them they really can achieve anything with the right strategy in place.

As for BUILD teachers, the hardest but most rewarding part is letting go of control.

Broome Street students with their teacher.

Namely, to give students the chance to become leaders. It's easy to instruct, but harder to sit back and watch them "do." Sometimes, that may mean watching them fail — but that's usually when the most significant lessons are learned.

"I lost track of the times I could see that something a student or a group of students was trying wasn't going to work, but I trusted that the learning we could have on the other side was more important, and I was right," explains Ford. "BUILD allows students to try things and learn from them. It's about the journey and what you learn along the way."

Learning through experience when we're out of our comfort zones, while scary, is often the best method. That's the principle behind BUILD and one of the main reasons students are coming out of it with a better sense of themselves, where they want to go in life, and how they're going to get there.

Photo courtesy of Capital One
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Growing up in Virginia, Dominique Meeks Gombe idolized her family physician — a young Black woman who inspired Meeks Gombe to pursue her passion for chemistry.

While Meeks Gombe began her career working in an environmental chemistry lab, after observing multiple inefficient processes in and around the lab, she took the initiative to teach herself to code in order to automate and streamline those issues.

That sparked her love for coding and imminent career shift. Now a software engineer at Capital One, Meeks Gombe wants to be a similar role model to her childhood mentor and encourage girls to pursue any career they desire.

"I'm so passionate about technology because that's where the world is going," Meeks Gombe said. "All of today's problems will be solved using technology. So it's very important for me, as a Black woman, to be at the proverbial table with my unique perspective."

Since 2019, she and her fellow Capital One associates have partnered with the Capital One Coders program and Girls For A Change to teach coding fundamentals to middle school girls.

The nonprofit's mission is aimed at empowering Black girls in Central Virginia. The organization focuses on designing, leading, funding and implementing social change projects that tackle issues girls face in their own neighborhoods.

Girls For a Change is one of many local nonprofits that receive support from the Capital One Impact Initiative, which strives to close gaps in equity while helping people gain better access to economic and social opportunities. The initial $200 million, five-year national commitment aims to support growth in underserved communities as well as advance socioeconomic mobility.

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Often, parents of children with special needs struggle to find Halloween costumes that will accommodate medical equipment or provide a proper fit. And figuring out how to make one? Yikes.

There's good news; shopDisney has added new ensembles to their already impressive line of adaptive play costumes. And from 8/30 - 9/26, there's a 20% off sale for all costume and costume accessory orders of $75+ with code Spooky.

When looking for the right costume, kids with unique needs have a lot of extra factors to consider: wheelchair wheels get tangled up in too-long material, feeding tubes could get twisted the wrong way, and children with sensory processing disorders struggle with the wrong kind of fabric, seams, or tags. There are a lot of different obstacles that can come between a kid and the ability to wear the costume of their choice, which is why it's so awesome that more and more companies are recognizing the need for inclusive creations that make it easy for everyone to enjoy the magic of make-believe.

Created with inclusivity in mind, the adaptive line is designed to discreetly accommodate tubes or wires from the front or the back, with lots of stretch, extra length and roomier cut, and self-stick fabric closures to make getting dressed hassle-free. The online shop provides details on sizing and breaks down the magical elements of each outfit and accessory, taking the guesswork out of selecting the perfect costume for the whole family.

Your child will be able to defeat Emperor Zurg in comfort with the Buzz Lightyear costume featuring a discreet flap opening at the front for easy tube access, with self-stick fabric closure. There is also an opening at the rear for wheelchair-friendly wear, and longer-length inseams to accommodate seated guests. To infinity and beyond!

An added bonus: many of the costumes offer a coordinating wheelchair cover set to add a major boost of fun. Kids can give their ride a total makeover—all covers are made to fit standard size chairs with 24" wheels—to transform it into anything from The Mandalorian's Razor Crest ship to Cinderella's Coach. Some options even come equipped with sounds and lights!

From babies to adults and adaptive to the group, shopDisney's expansive variety of Halloween costumes and accessories are inclusive of all.

Don't forget about your furry companions! Everyone loves to see a costumed pet trotting around, regardless of the occasion. You can literally dress your four-legged friend to look like Sven from Frozen, which might not sound like something you need in your life but...you totally do. CUTENESS OVERLOAD.

This year has been tough for everyone, so when a child gets that look of unfettered joy that comes from finally getting to wear the costume of their dreams, it's extra rewarding. Don't wait until the last minute to start looking for the right ensemble!


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