Students gain entrepreneurial skills by running a business
The Standing Rock Reservation in south central North Dakota is far from major cities, which limits children’s exposure to business role models and opportunities to develop entrepreneurial skills.
In 2010, North Dakota 4-H members in grades 7-12 launched Sioux Image as an embroidery, printing and silkscreen business. Students are taught basic business skills and screen printing. They order raw materials, sell merchandise, receive and process orders, maintain records and deal with customers. Through these activities, students learn to manage a business, provide customer service and increase profits, which are reinvested in the business and the mentoring program.
The program has expanded to include training youths to operate a 16-needle embroidery machine, vinyl cutter, ceramic kiln, wood lathe, plasma cutter, wire-feed welder, plotter printer, laser cutter, jewelry kiln, 3D printer, 3D scanner, heat press and sublimation vacuum press.
More than 300 students have been involved in running the Sioux Image business at Solen High School. Since the program began, high school graduation rates have increased over 35%, and annual surveys show that students leave with increased confidence and work skills.