The Pasadena Chamber of Commerce and some of its members were part of the mid-term evaluation of students in the Business and Entrepreneurship Academy at John Muir High School in Pasadena Unified School District. Business partners were tasked with helping evaluate the Awesome Avocado project at John Muir. To complete the project, which takes the place of a mid-term exam for academy students, Business and Entrepreneurship Academy seniors form consulting teams and vie for a long-term contract as management consultants to a major avocado grower and distributor, The Awesome Avocado Company.
For the project, students are encouraged to apply basic concepts of economics and business practice as they analyze relevant financial information and recommend strategies for increasing the company’s profitability. Teams present their strategic recommendations to their client participating business partners. This year’s “clients” were Chamber member’s Elizabeth Eichhorn CEO/Founder of Mary Lee Kitchen, Bob Harrison of Green Street Restaurant and Kelii Wong of Whole Foods, Arroyo Pkwy. Amy Foell, the Chamber’s workforce development director, coordinated the participation of the business partners.
Students were asked to answer the question, “How can we, as consultants in a competitive economy, best help our client respond to the opportunities and threats in the marketplace?” Each group was asked to choose two ways to help the fictional company, Awesome Avocados, meet its profitability goals from five possible choices: reducing production costs, investing in R & D, lobbying for protection, buying shares in foreign avocado companies, and/or purchasing land abroad and moving production there.
Each team of five students worked as a team to come up with solutions and reasoning behind their recommendations. The student teams then presented their solutions to Chamber member business partners who provided feedback and a qualitative analysis. Student solutions ranged from economizing on production, seeking government support to allow the U.S. company to be more competitive in the marketplace to moving operations offshore to reduce expenses.
The response from the business partners will be taken into account in the mid-term evaluation and grading of the Awesome Avocado project. “I am very pleased to be able to connect our students with local business leaders for the Awesome Avocado project,” Ms. Foell said. “By applying what they’ve learned in the classroom, the students gained some understanding of the decisions and pressures facing real-world businesses. Interacting with the business partners from Green Street, Mary Lee Kitchen and Whole Foods gave the students a chance to work with and learn from people who are making these sorts of decisions on a daily basis.”
The Pasadena Chamber of Commerce has partnered with the Pasadena Unified School District to support work-based learning for high school students in the Business and Entrepreneurship and the Engineering and Environmental Science academies at John Muir High School, App Academy and Law and Public Service at Pasadena High School and the CEO academy at Rose City Continuation School and the Independent Study Program. The public and the business community can support these efforts by donating to the Pasadena Chamber of Commerce Foundation, a 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization. More information is available at pasadenayouthworks.org.