Serving Preschool Through 8th Grade in the San Francisco East Bay Since 1962

New Student-Centered Financial Literacy Unit Immerses 5th Graders in the World of Business

In 5th grade, students transformed into young entrepreneurs over the course of the BizWorld financial literacy math unit.
Developed in Silicon Valley and now the largest teacher-led entrepreneurial program in the world, this three-week integrated project saw our students banding together to form companies to design, manufacture, and market friendship bracelets with a collaborative and creative spirit.

The 5th graders didn't just create bracelets; they created a mini-business ecosystem. They embraced distinct leadership roles within their company: VP of finance, sales, marketing, production, or design, or CEO; practiced writing resumes and cover letters to apply for positions within their companies; pitched their business ideas to a “VC” (4th/5th grade math specialist Kelly Ritz); built their brand identities through company slogans or jingles; decided whether or not to take a bank loan; and learned business ethics and principles from a host of special guests within our staff community, including Assistant Head of School for Finance and Operations Tanner Ragland, HR Coordinator Patty Gonser, and School Counselor Cyrell Roberson.

In a shift from the Box City financial literacy unit of years past, BizWorld is “less about the actual product they were creating, and more about the process of what they were creating,” explained teachers Nancy Palmer and Phil McFann. Taking place at school from start to finish, the unit provided a student-centered experience focusing on the opportunity to develop their entrepreneurial mindset and equip them with the practical knowledge to become future problem solvers while filling them with a sense of autonomy, pride, and accomplishment. 

On the project's culminating BizWorld Market Day, the 5th grade students set up shop in the Student Commons with their bracelets and company names—Charms, Buddy Bracelets, Eco-Friendly Friendships, and Bracelet Bonanza, among others—proudly on display. Armed with 20 dollars each in “Biz Bucks” currency, 3rd graders flowed through the market, each coming away with three or four carefully crafted bracelets. Meanwhile, 5th graders sharpened their real-world business skills, adjusting their pricing models on the fly and offering discounts on surplus inventory towards the end of the event.

More than just a math lesson, BizWorld was a collaborative journey of teamwork, entrepreneurship, and the intricate workings of the business world. The 5th grade team hopes to continue building out the community involvement aspect of the unit in the future; Ms. Palmer listed staff-hosted student job interviews, participation from volunteer "angel investors," and more share-outs from business-minded parent and community members as potential elements of the project in the years to come.