MANISTIQUE — A group of local high school students are getting a look at what it takes to run a small business.
With over 100 students involved from the construction of the building, to the finances, these young adults will be leaving high school with some valuable and unique experiences. In this week’s #ABC10Feature, Chelsea Birdsall went to Manistique to take a look at the area’s soon–to–be the Grind Coffee Shop.
It may not look like much now, but in just a few short months, this will be the site of Manistique’s newest coffee shop—The Grind Coffee House. And what’s most unique about the soon–to–be shop is it’s run by students at Manistique High School and functions as a non–profit project under UPward Community Youth. The operation has two main goals of teaching students how to operate a profitable business as well providing a positive and successful enterprise for young entrepreneurs.
“I know when I was their age, those were not the types of things I was doing,” said Student Education Coordinator at Limestone Credit Union, Alycia Kaiser. “I just think it’s really awesome for them that they’re able to have this type of experience.”
The idea for the coffee shop was formed back in the fall of 2015 when Limestone Credit Union applied and received a $20,000 community reinvestment grant from the Michigan Credit Union Foundation. The project was then discussed between students and representatives from the credit union and was undertaken by UPward Youth Community, which is a non–profit aimed at maintaining youth entrepreneurial projects.
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Since then, over 100 students have had some part in bringing life to this project in a variety of different roles. The schools building trades class is leading site construction and the CAD and math classes have been building the marketing and financial empire.
“It’s just great to have so many different students involved and seeing what it takes to run a business,” said Laurel Ashbrook, a teacher at Manistique Middle and High School. “It’s not just one specific area, but it takes a variety of different groups in order to use that expertise.
Some students involved in the project have no intentions of going into business, but for others, this was a life changing decision, like that of senior Stephanie LaFoille who decided against forensic science for business administration after her role in the coffee shop.
“I hope we inspire other kids to do something like this because it’s taught me a lot. I’ve learned how to communicate better with others,” said LaFoille. “I’ve learned basically how to run a business and there’s a lot that comes with that.
Thanks to the shop’s non–profit status, all money made at the business will be filtrated back to Manistique Public Schools, a cause that brings the experience full circle as the students give back to their alma mater.
“I feel like it’s really cool. I would really like to see this place improved,” said senior at Manistique High School, Nick Lemaster. “I feel like there are a lot of good opportunities here and there’s a lot of places where things don’t necessarily need to be improved but should be improved and I believe this a good way to do that.”
Kaiser said the community has been extremely supportive of the student’s endeavor and have donated money, goods and labor to get the project off the ground. The Grind Coffee House will have a soft opening later this spring with expectations of being fully up and running this summer.
For now, employment will be voluntary during the summer, but once class is back in session this fall, students will earn credit for their time there.
“I think it will be really cool to come back and show my kids in the future like, ‘Hey, I opened this up.’ It’s a lot of hard work put into it,” said LaFoille.
“Whether it be going to college right after high school or just immediately going into a job, our goal is to provide just a peek into the life of a small business owner,” Kaiser. “It’s about dreaming big, looking to the future and we’re excited to be a part of that.”