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There are 430 kids in the Roaring Fork Valley who hope people are thirsty today.

That’s because there are 430 kids registered for Lemonade Day, a valleywide program that teaches youth financial literacy and entrepreneurship by taking them through the steps to start, own and operate their own business — a lemonade stand.

In 2007, founder Michael Holthouse came up with the idea when his daughter, Lissa, who was 11 at the time, wanted to buy a turtle. He was fine with her request, but Holthouse wanted his daughter to buy the turtle with her own money. They decided she could earn her money by selling lemonade. What Holthouse discovered as he helped his daughter was that, despite being a successful businessman, he had never shared his knowledge of business with his daughter.

He came up with a 14-step program that guides youth from an idea to a business plan while teaching them the same principles required to start any business. The program is designed to teach kids to work hard and make a profit, and at the same time they learn about spending, saving and giving back to their community.

By the way, Lissa Holthouse is now 18 and about to enroll at Ole Miss to study business.

“It’s much more than your average lemonade stand,” said Heather Hicks, the city director for Lemonade Day in the Roaring Fork Valley and director of recruitment for the Buddy Program in Aspen. “It’s not just the parents putting up the money and doing all the work. The children need to find an investor that loans them their startup capital that the kids need to pay back. They learn it takes a risk to become an entrepreneur.”

The first step is a monthlong learning experience where an adult works with the child and goes through the 14 steps to open their lemonade stand. The next step is the implementation of the business.

“These are real-life skills,” Hicks said. “They’re lessons that often aren’t taught in schools but are so important for children to grasp. It’s one thing to be told a concept, and it’s another to experience it through a hands-on experiential learning opportunity.”

Hicks is encouraging people to buy some lemonade and talk to the kids about their business.

“Lemonade Day is a big deal for these kids,” she said. “I’m hoping our communities support these budding entrepreneurs.”


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