The journey of helping her daughter cope with a learning disorder led former teacher Amber Wakem to discover the importance of creativity and entrepreneurship. With the goal of helping all children achieve entrepreneurial success, Wakem said she founded $tart-Up! Kid’s Club.
The club, an educational nonprofit that aims to cultivate entrepreneurship in children, strives to help children realize their dreams and goals, Wakem said.
Wakem’s idea for the program started with her now 8-year-old daughter, Harper, who was diagnosed with dyslexia in the first grade. Wakem said her research about the disorder helped her to realize dyslexic children often become successful entrepreneurs.
She said she brushed that realization aside until a family garage sale earlier this year during which Harper decided she wanted to start a lemonade stand.
Following additional research, Harper created a coffee stand instead and profited over $100 after paying for supplies. Wakem said watching Harper thrive and get excited lit a lightbulb in her mind.
“My education side was like, ‘Goodness, why aren’t we teaching kids these skills?’” Wakem said. “There is much more value in the practicality of learning real-world experiences.”
Wakem, who recently quit her nearly 10-year tenure in education to host the program full-time, began offering the club to children at the start of the 2017-18 school year with three locations near South Austin, including one at the Dittmar Recreation Center.
Children who join the program create an idea for a business and product. Throughout the semester, with guidance from field experts and research, students create and market their product.
“We all have big ideas, dreams and goals,” Wakem said. “This is an opportunity to lift our kids up and teach them to be resilient and help them realize that they can do anything.”
$tart-Up! Kid’s Club
1009 W. Dittmar Road, Austin
Hours: Thu. 4-5:15 p.m.