Students in the Minnetonka Students Achieving Independent Life (S.A.I.L.) Program recently participated in a business activity in which they baked and sold dog treats. S.A.I.L. Business is a class in the program designed to teach students the ins and outs of managing a business model. The dog treat activity and other similar activities gives students the opportunity to gain real, hands-on experience, while also raising revenue to further enrich the curriculum.
Program director Erin Valenta described the detailed process of the activity. “Students use business funds to buy the raw materials to mix and bake dog treats. They keep track of inventory and package and label the bags according to their Cottage Food Producer license. They have used many different methods to market the product, and are currently working on widening any distribution,” she said. “When the product is sold, the students organize the deposit tickets and keep an updated spreadsheet of their fund balance. They use this fund balance to plan out events and create budgets to ensure they have enough money to pay for the events.”
Students gained valuable, unique skills managing multiple aspects of a business. “The biggest highlight has been the ownership the students have over the business,” shared Valenta. “As it is a real-life product and sale, it has a different meaning to them versus a classroom simulation.”
The S.A.I.L. Program designs activities that are fun, interesting and beneficial in the long term for students. “The main goal [of the business model] was to create a real-life, hands-on business class so students had the opportunity to participate and manage all areas of a business model,” said Valenta. “It has fulfilled its first purpose and will continue to grow and develop over time. Students have discussed other products they would like to add to the business model in the future.”