Children encouraged to start their own business will place their efforts on display May 2.
An extracurricular program that teaches children how to run a small business culminates with Lemonade Day, which allows participants to show their progress by setting up a lemonade stand to test their business model.
"[We] wanted to introduce boys and girls into entrepreneurship, especially the focus being on low- to moderate-income kids," said Eugene Sepulveda, CEO of the Entrepreneurs Foundation of Central Texas, the group that hosts the program. "There's just something about turning on that switch in the mind of a kid that you can make something and sell it and make your living."
Many participants team up with other children instead of creating a lemonade stand by themselves, a practice that helps teach children how to collaborate with others as well as how to budget, understand revenues and expenses and various other life skills that can lead to future success, Sepulveda said.
"The greatest threat to the American dream is the economic chasm between the haves and the have nots," he said. "The opportunity to close that gap is for more children to grow up understanding that they can be creative and innovative. It's creativity and innovation that are the most prized talents today."
The event will take place citywide, and anyone interested in supporting the program is encouraged to visit their neighborhood lemonade stand or spend the day traveling around Austin to visit the various stands.
After about two or three years in the program, many children will change the product from lemonade to other items to try something new, Sepulveda said.
One of the most well-known Lemonade Day participants is Mikaila Ulmer, who started in the program at age 4, Sepulveda said. Ulmer, who is now 10, founded BeeSweet Lemonade and was recently featured on "Shark Tank," during which she received a $60,000 investment from American entrepreneur Daymond John.
This will be the seventh year the program has existed in Austin and the sixth year since Lemonade Day curriculum was introduced in Austin schools. There are currently 35 school, after-school and summer programs that utilize the curriculum. The average age of the participants is 8.5 years old.