CHICAGO (CBS) — Young entrepreneurs are learning how to create opportunities, not just for themselves, but for their communities.
As CBS 2’s Jim Williams reports, a line of food trucks fed the lunch crowd at the University of Chicago, including one run by a group of 10-year-olds.
“I think it’s a good opportunity to become entrepreneurs and work for ourselves,” said 10-year-old Alondra Santoyo.
Santoyo and her colleagues are running the operation at a food truck selling Sicilian food.
“I think it’s wonderful because you learn how to become successful in life,” added Ja’Mel Baker, Santoyo’s colleague.
300 kids in grade school and high school are learning how to create businesses in a program developed by The Academy Group.
The goal, said Kathleen Caliento, is “to help unlock potential for them and potentially help them become the next leaders of our society,” emphasizing she hopes the students become leaders in their at-risk communities.
“We believe in their brilliance. We believe in their excellence and believe they have what it takes to become a change agent in our society,” Caliento said.
Alondra Santoyo lives in the Back of the Yards neighborhood, often plagued with gang violence.
“Sometimes there’s a little bit of violence and people not being a good neighbors, but my parents tell me to stay from it and ‘you be the good neighbor,’” Santoyo stated.
While customers enjoyed the delicacies, the 10-year-olds learned how to balance a budget, one of the many skills they hope will one day help transform a troubled city.
“People like me are the future, so it depends on us,” said Ja’Mel Baker.
Kathleen Caliento of The Academy Group says the children they work with from at-risk communities have the characteristics that make successful leaders because they’ve learned to be resilient.
The program has grown dramatically over the past year, from 60 to 300 participants.