A high school junior in Long Island, New York, has developed an innovative learning program to help children discover their own entrepreneurial streak through baking, cupcakes, teamwork and fun.

Seventeen-year-old Kailey Perkins, who attends the Chapin School, cooked up the Young Entrepreneur Scholars program to give middle school kids in underserved New York communities a taste of what’s involved in entrepreneurship by starting a bake shop filled with delicious goodies.

Related: Wofford College social entrepreneurs plant a SEED. for global change

Motivating children has been easy despite the pandemic, Perkins said. “When you offer fun activities, like starting a bakery, kids are open to learning anything, even fractions,” she laughed. “We’re proud that 250 students have completed both our in-person program and virtual sessions during the pandemic.”

Kailey Perkins, founder of Young Entrepreneur Scholars

Giving back isn’t new for Perkins, who was volunteering to assist the elderly at 10 years old. “With the support of my mom (Leslie), charitable work has always been super-important to me,” she said. That’s why she began thinking about starting her own nonprofit. “I didn’t know what type of charity I wanted to organize, then it struck me. I loved to bake and work with children, so why not combine baking with some key ingredients needed to start a new business?”

Perkins threw herself into the project, developing a fun, interactive team curriculum covering a variety of topics, such as brainstorming, logo creation, pricing, advertising, community PR and market research, plus a dash of math to calculate bakery costs.

Next, she created and assembled colorful totes with supplies needed for a bakery start-up, including opportunities for creative expression: a chef’s apron ready for decorating; fabric magic markers; a bountiful supply of stickers; packages of icing and food coloring; and homemade sugar cookies, candies and sprinkles for decorating. Every child also receives a Young Entrepreneur Scholars Certificate of Completion and a surprise gift.

Related: This 12-year-old entrepreneur uses bowties to help shelter animals get adopted

While Young Entrepreneur Scholars focuses on underserved communities, Perkins has also been invited to teach the program as part of educational offerings at other organizations, including Southampton Fresh Air Fund, Little Flowers and Encourage Kids. “The kids enjoyed the activities so much that all they talked about was the designs on their aprons and whose cookies looked and tasted the best, and two members are interested in opening their own business,” one fan of the program said.

Perkins said Young Entrepreneur Scholars is poised for continued growth. “It means so much to see children having fun working together and learning on Zoom, so we’ll be continuing the program throughout the school year,” she said. “We may even start sending totes to various organizations nationwide and conducting our sessions virtually.”

Once normalcy returns to New York, she added, “We’ll go back to teaching students how to bake in person, holding bake sales and participating in community activities. For now, we’re thrilled that we can contribute to a child’s education and enjoyment despite COVID-19.”

Back to all News items.