When 126 high school juniors and seniors in northern Rhode Island started a summer program to beef up their math skills on Aug. 13, they began learning from entrepreneurs as well as teachers about the importance of using math to run a business.
One of the entrepreneurs scheduled to show students how to pitch a business proposition was 18-year-old Anthony Defilippo, founder and CEO of Earth Custom Designs. The Providence nonprofit sells native Mayan jewelry from Guatemala. Half of the sales at six Providence stores support the artisans and the rest goes to support the village schools. He founded the business through the MET Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship E-360 Program in Providence, he said.
Dubbed the Pathways to Graduation Summer Program and held in eight sessions at Rhode Island College, this first-ever summer day camp is intended to do two things: engage students in a fun way and help them refine math skills in preparation for taking the NECAP state assessments in October.
Rhode Island high school students need to be proficient in New England Common Assessment Program math testing in order to graduate.
Students meet from 9 a.m. to noon each weekday through Aug. 22 and spend half the time on math and half the time building a business plan, a pitch and researching what social enterprise is. The social-enterprise component is used to identify what some of the societal problems are in their community that they’d like to see solved.
Smithfield Superintendent Robert O’Brien and fellow superintendents initially identified as many as 1,000 students in 10 school districts who could benefit from a program like this.
What O’Brien knew he didn’t want was a program that offers “the same old summer-school drill-and-kill classes [without] any practical application.”