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January 30, 2014

TREP$ program teaches children joys of business

A Cooperstown program that teaches children how to start and run their own businesses has entered its fifth year.

“It’s such a great program,” said Cooperstown TREP$ Chairperson Carina Franck.

The TREP$ program, whose name derives from the word entrepreneur, was created by Pamela de Wall and Hayley Romano, two New Jersey public school teachers, and has been adopted by a number of schools in that state. The eight-week program, designed for students from fourth to eighth grade, consists of after-school workshops that teach participants different aspects of building their own business, from making a business plan to identifying target demographics. The program culminates in the TREP$ marketplace, where students launch their own businesses and sell goods and services.

“They’re treated like adults,” said Franck, on the atmosphere of the marketplace.

In Cooperstown the TREP$ marketplace is being held this year as part of the Winter Carnival on Sunday, Feb. 9 from 1 to 3 p.m. in the Cooperstown Middle/High School gymnasium. Some of the items that have been sold at past marketplaces are giant cupcakes, homemade jewelry, trivets and fertilizer made from rabbit droppings.

Once participants complete the TREP$ program they can participate in the TREP$ marketplace until they graduate from high school. CCS students Margie Knight and Sylvia Johnson were part of the first TREP$ program in Cooperstown, and are returning to the marketplace for a fifth time this year to sell their jewelry. They also have sold their jewelry outside the marketplace.

On Jan. 27, participants in this year’s program got the opportunity to pitch their business plans to members of the area’s business community, who agreed to serve as mentors for the day, as part of the afternoon’s workshop.

Steve Locke, a loan officer at Farm Credit East, Jessica Baker, a mortgage lender at the Bank of Cooperstown, Jane McCoy, a director of sales at Marriott and Marcy Birch, owner of Barnyard Swing Minature Golf Course, listened to each of the business plans that have been developed by the students this year, asking questions, giving encouragement and providing constructive criticism.

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